Saturday night, coach Ramsay elected to skate Freddy Modin and Tim Stapleton when his Thrashers took on the Islanders. Taking their place at the press box buffet were Ben Eager and Nic Bergfors. Ramsay said that he made the move because he “wanted to bring some attention to the team that we didn’t play hard enough [Friday night]”.
While I did scratch my head when hearing of this shakeup…personally, I would have rather seen Bergie in there instead of Modin…I love the fact that we finally have a coach in here that insists on his players giving total effort all the time. If you don’t play hard, you don’t play at all.
And he doesn’t wait for several games to go by before enforcing that rule.
Early on, however, it looked as though the message he was sending by making the moves was not bringing about the desired results. Following the loss to Colorado Ramsay’s Thrashers found themselves down 2-0 late in the second period to the NHL basement dwellers, the New York Islanders. Fortunately though…his players finally seemed to get their collective acts together and pulled off a 5-4 victory.
Call the win “ugly” if you will… but while I won’t argue that point with you, two points added to the standing are never aesthetically challenged in my view. I’ll take ‘em any way, shape matter or form that I can, thank you very much.
Just as the Thrashers escaped Long Island with the win, Johnny Oduya escaped an island of his own…Schnide Island. Oduya scored his first goal of the season at the 5:45 mark of the third period to tie the game at 2 apiece. But instead of just rowing away from the Isle de Schnide, he opted to crank up the outboard motor to get away from it as fast as he could. Just 1:18 after scoring goal number one, Oduya added a second one.
Left on the shore waiving goodbye is Ron Hainsey. He’s now the lone Thrasher regular remaining to get off The Schnide. Freddy Meyer and Tim Stapleton are still scoreless, but Meyer has played in just 6 games while Stapleton suited up for his first bit of action this season Saturday night.
Chris Mason saw his first action in four weeks. Last we saw him in between the pipes, he’d just allowed a sharp-angle goal to Washington’s Matt Hendricks just 1:11 after Andrew Ladd had pulled the Thrashers to within one goal. Mason stopped 26 of the 29 Islander shots faced to improve his record to 7-5-1.
The last goal he allowed was to Blake Comeau while Atlanta was trying to kill off an Anthony Stewart holding-the-stick penalty. It was the first power play goal the Islanders had converted since…since…since…ruffling through stacks of stats sheet…since…oh heck, I don’t keep track of New York Islander stats. But it’s been a while.
Bryan Little had what I consider the best goal of the night. Halfway through the third, with the score tied at 3-3, he snapped a faceoff draw up and over the left shoulder of an obviously surprised Rick DiPietro. It seemed as though there was a communications issue between his teammate in the faceoff circle and the puck was allowed to drop before he was set.
“I tried to make it seem like I was going to win [the faceoff] back,” Little said after the game. “I was trying to put it on net, to get a shot, and ended up getting a good bounce on it.”
“I’ve tried it before, but you need to have a bit of luck to get it through. I kind of caught them off-guard, and their goalie really wasn’t paying attention.”
Your other Thrashers goal-scorers were…Alex Burmistrov, who deflected in a Brent Sopel shot from the point, and Anthony Stewart who score Atlanta’s first goal of the night. Stewey knocked home a very nice pass from Sopel who had circled around the net and drew DiPietro far to his right, leaving the backside open.
Oh and, in case you didn’t hear, there were a thousand or so hockey fans from Quebec that made an 11 hour bus trip down to Nassau Coliseum to take in the game. Rumor has it they’d like to let the NHL community know they’d sure as heck-fire like another team up in their neck of the woods.
As you’ll recall, 15 years ago they saw their Nordiques bolt for the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. They then watched from afar as they went on to win 2 Stanley Cup there in the following few years. Sadly, we in Atlanta know what that feels like given the Flames victory in 1989 while in Calgary…so we can at least sympathize to a certain degree with all those ‘Diques.
Anyway, whenever the game clock ticked down to 15 minutes remaining in each period…one minute for every year hockey has been away from their city… the ‘Diques erupted in a loud symbolic roar to let the hockey world know they were there.
They do have five more years to use that ploy, but I don’t know what they’re gonna come up with six years from now when it’s been 21 years without a team in Quebec City…you know, where hockey “belongs”.
Anywhooo… while I don’t think they’ll be getting the franchise that’s stationed here in Thrasherville anytime soon, I don’t think they’re field trip to Long Island was a fruitless venture nonetheless. I mean, outside of getting to attend an NHL game in person, they certainly did make some noise and their presence was felt. And I’m certainly not going to take that away from them. That plus at least one of them wound with a real NHL game puck that was lifted up into the crowd late in the game.
I’m sure that’ll make a nice keepsake as the ‘Diques head back home to Quebec.