OK, whoever left the door open up there in Canada…would you please mind shutting it? And while you’re at it, how about a new round of weather-stripping around the border, eh?
Temperatures here in Atlanta area dropped into the single digits last night and early this morning with the wind chill factored in. The thermometer reported the frosty conditions as snow flurries flew about throughout Sunday afternoon and evening.
Last night it was so cold…how cold was it?… it was so cold, I actually considered letting the cats come back inside.
But this is nothing compared to what’s going on up in the Upper midwest…I mean, did you see what happened to the Metrodome in Minn-EEE-So-TAH? Yikes.
Anyway, while we were bundled up in front of a cracking fireplaces, struggling for throw-blanket supremacy with our significant-others on the couch while watching TV last night, there was something going on in Manhattan that effects the residence of Thrasherville. The Rangers basically kicked the Washington Capitals square in their icicles, beating them 7-0. The loss extends the Caps losing streak to 6 and it keeps them only four points in front of the Thrashers.
What this means is that our Thrashers have the opportunity to climb back to within a pair of points of the Southeast Division leaders if they can effort out a win in Ottawa tonight. That’s big news, especially seeing that the Thrashers would have a game in hand with the Caps. It would also mean they would catapult over Boston and Tampa Bay in the standings, both of whom are idle tonight, and it would tie them with the Rangers at 37 points.
If I’m not mistaken, the last time this team found themselves within sniffing distance of the top spot in the division this far into a season was back in the winter of ’08 after 10-round shootout victory in New Jersey. They then went on to drop a steaming pile of fail against the Islanders the next night and…well, that’s old history now.
Atlanta’s 16-11-3 record is exactly the same as it was last December. But unlike that version of the Thrashers, this one is ascending in the standings. This time last year, they were dropping as fast as the mercury in our back porch thermometers over the weekend. Then, they were in the midst of a winter freeze that saw them play to an 8-14-5 record between Thanksgiving and late January, including a nine-game losing streak. Between the beginning of December and January 12 of last year, they went 20 consecutive games without mustering a single regulation win.
But now, these Thrashers join their neighbors in the Dome as just about the hottest thing in Atlanta. The Thrashers have won three of the last four and nine of the last eleven.
As for some cold hard stats…
Ondrej Pavelec, who should be back between the pipes tonight, is now 9-6-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .944 SV%. In is career versus the Senators, he’s 3-3-1 with a 2.35 GAA and .929 SV%. The last time he started a game in Ottawa, he kicked out 50 of 51 shots as the Thrashers won 3-1 back on Halloween of 2009. Last month he come on in relief of Chris Mason in the 5-2 loss in Ottawa and saved 10 of 11.
Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd continue to lead the Thrashers in goals scored, both have 10. Buff has 20 assists to go with it while Ladd has 19.
Bryan Little has taken over as the team’s +/- leader as he is now +8. Brent Sopel is close behind with a +7 while Eric Boulton and Ben Eager are each a +6 for the season.
Since November 19, Anthony Stewart is a +5 and has contributed with 3 goals and 2 assists during in that time frame which spans 11 games.
The engine that runs the team’s offense hasn’t been affected at all by the colder weather. After potting five against the Islanders Saturday night, the Thrashers now have a goals per game average of 3.09, the seventh best in the NHL just behind Tampa Bay’s 3.10. The 1035 total shots taken on opposing goalies is the second most in the league, behind Anaheim’s 1135. The Ducks have played three more games than have the Thrashers, though.
Going oh-fer five on the power play, though, on Long Island has dropped them to fourth in the NHL in that statistical column. They are still converting 23.1% of their man-advantages though.