I don’t know about you…but this week has just seemed to drag along slower than, well…slower than Christmas. I guess it’s the combination of the Thrashers playing so well lately, the fact that their last outing was a very exciting 3-2 overtime win against a solid Nashville squad and that they haven’t played since last Monday.
But yes Thrasherville, finally it’s FRIDAY!
With the weekend comes a pair of games for us to enjoy…the first tonight as the Colorado Avalanche pay us a visit. Then tomorrow night they’ll wing their way up to Lonnnnn-Gisland for a matchup against New York. It will be the first of four back-to-back sets for the Thrashers before we say good-bye to old man 2010 in three weeks.
The Avs come to town on a four-game losing streak, although only one has been in regulation. In the past seven games they are 1-3-3, which includes the 3-2 overtime loss to Atlanta last November 30.
“The mindset right now is just [gaining] two points”, Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson said of his team’s recent struggles. “For me right now, it’s also that I just stay in the lineup. I can’t have anymore letdowns for me or that team.”
Anderson is 4-4-2 with a .908 SV% and a 2.90 GAA. In is career against the Thrashers, he’s 3-1-1 with a2.56 GAA and .924 SV%.
The Islanders are…well…the Islanders.
They are 5-15-5 overall, 1-15-3 in their last 19 games played and their 15 points are the fewest of any team in the league. The Islanders have no player with more than 15 overall points and they have but one player on the positive side of the +/- rating…defenseman Travis Hamonic who is a +1 and has play in only 6 games.
Their 55 total goals scored are second lowest behind only the…shall we say… offensively-challenged New Jersey Devils, who have just 50 goals to their credit. In fact, speaking of the Devils, the last game the Islanders won was the day after Thanksgiving when they blanked them 2-0 behind Rick DiPietro’s 29 saves.
Yeah…the Isles are fighting it.
“I know it’s mentally tough for those guys, but they’ve got to find it within themselves in that room”, interim coach Jack Capuano recently said of his Islanders team. “They’ve got to have a little attitude and swagger to their game. You can look at the standings, but we’ve got to have some attitude, play with an edge and have the confidence and belief that we can win some hockey games”.
The Thrashers…well, they are a different story, my friends. This team is hotter than a Victoria’s Secret runway show. They have won eight of their last nine and sport the NHL’s second-best power play unit, successful 24.8% of the time. Vancouver is 25.0%.
Atlanta has been dropping in goals at a rate of 3.11 per game, which is currently seventh best…just .02 behind Washington and Pittsburgh…thanks in large part to their ability to get pucks and bodies to the net consistently. Going into this weekend’s action, they are getting off 31.1 shots on goal per game. Oh, and their goals against average is a respectable 2.79.
Given that the entire squad seems have embraced this new total team concept to attacking and defending, it’s tough to single out one or two players that seem to be making the greatest impact on their recent success. It seems that every night it’s a different play making the difference in a Thrashers win.
However, Ondrej Pavelec’s play in goal has to place right on top of that list. He is now 9-5-2 with an outstanding 1.71 GAA and .947 SV%. He also has a pair of shutouts to show for his efforts as well.
We’ll see Chris Mason again tomorrow night on the Island. Given the fact that it’s a back-to-back set…and he hasn’t played since getting the hook in D.C. way back on November 14…he’ll be skated out between the pipes for that game.
Mason is 6-5-1 with a 3.90 GAA and .897 SV%. But while he’s been with what Opie has done lately, just as we all have been, he’s ready to get back in there and do his part to help this team continue their winning ways.
“Its been fun watching”, Mason told the AJC’s Ken Sugiura earlier this week. “But I’m definitely looking forward to getting back into the nets”.
The Thrashers leader in overall points is Dustin Byfuglien, who has 29. His 10 goals are tied for the top spot with Captain Ladd and his 19 assists are equal to Toby Enstrom. The Buffinator has 4 power play goals, which tie him for the team lead in that stat with Ladd, Anthony Stewart, Nik Antropov and Rich Peverley.
Buff also leads in game-winners for the Thrashers. He has five of those so far…no one else has more than one. Two of those have come in overtime, one against Buffalo and the other to dispose of the Islanders last month.
Your +/- leaders on the Thrashers team are Ben Eager and Eric Boulton…both +6.
See ya tonight at Philips Arena gang. Oh, and if you’re part of the crowd joining us in section 204…be prepared to have some fun. If you think it’s too late to get in on the $30 ticket and a Thrashers tee-shirt deal, you’re wrong. You can still call Karin at 404-878-3781 to get hooked up.
It’s sure to be a blast…definitely worth the wait for Friday.