Saturday night as I was driving up Marietta Street on my way home from the game, I noticed a Salvation Army truck motoring down the road. As it passed by, I thought to myself that it was probably an emergency shipment of sweaters and coats being rushed down to Satan and his band of demons…because Hell has officially frozen over.
Why do I say this? Well…where do I begin?
First of all, there was this 7-1 beat-down of the New Jersey Devils that had just taken place down at Philips Arena. The Thrashers had jumped all over them like the visiting in-laws would your holiday dessert tray. And much like those tasty Christmas treats, when they were through all that remained were crumbs thrown all about the place.
It was as if they’d ripped the number 17 off an old Ilya Kovalchuk jersey left over in the supply closet and tossed it up on the scoreboard…backwards.
But that’s really not all that bizarre mind you. I mean, a good team is supposed to take care of business at home when the second-worst team the league pays you a call. Especially when said team had just been beaten up the night before by the Nashville Predators.
But the victory, coupled with the Washington Capitals 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, allowed Atlanta to not only take over sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division, but they will awake Sunday morning to find themselves firmly ensconced in the second spot overall in the Eastern Conference. Washington, on the other hand, will find themselves in third place in the division…tied with Tampa Bay but having played 2 more games than have the Lightning. The Caps are now seventh in the conference.
I’ll now pause to give you a moment to collect yourselves after dealing with that little piece of 411
All in all…just about everything that could go right this night did go right. About the only thing that did not is that Miss GritsandPucks didn’t win the Two Minute Drill contest. Too bad kid, maybe next time.
Also consider this…with the six-goal victory, the Thrashers now are a +12 in goals for/goals against this season. Consider that the year they actually played beyond the mandatory 82 game minimum, the Thrashers were merely a +1 in that stat. They were +6 the season prior to that, the highest it’s ever been to finish a season.
Then there is the fact that Ron Hainsey finally got off Schnide Island by opening up the night’s scoring. Very fitting given his picture was on the cover of the game program.
Hmmm…I wonder if we can find a way to get Tim Stapleton on Tuesday night’s handout.
Just prior to Hainsey’s score, an Atlanta Police squad car had flashed its way near the ice from the tunnel where the Zamboni normally comes out of. Out from the back popped Thrash, who had just been sprung from the Gwinnett County lockup. I guess the transfer was made somewhere in DeKalb County.
But even witnessing a jailbird fly the coop and be rushed rink side wasn’t the most unusual occurrence on this winning night.
No…what made this evening go from odd, to weird, to bizarre to something akin to an artic blast in the underworld was Eric Boulton scoring not once…not twice…but thrice, causing the hats of Thrasherville to fly out of the stands down into the ice. They were goals number two, three and four for Bolts on the year and now moves him to with just four of Ilya Kovalchuk’s total for the season.
“I honestly did not believe I would get that last one”, Boulton said after his first-ever multi-goal game. “I thought this was too good to be true”.
Boulton finished the game a +3 and is now a +10 overall. In fact, he is the lone player remaining in the league who has yet to finish a game on the wrong side of the +/- rating.
Making matters even that much stranger-er-er was the fact that Rich Perverley ended up in the sin-bin for five minutes after a fight with Travis Zajac. Really now, if I were to have pointed at both Peverley and Boulton before the game and said, ”One will get into a pretty good fight and the other would notch a hat trick”, how many of you would have figured it would turn out the way it did?
looking around the blogosphere…Uh-huh, me either.
The loss and his team’s ever-deteriorating season left former Thrasher Ilya Kovalchuk using words like “embarrassing”, “unacceptable” and “Everything went wrong”.
Of course, nothing Kovy said there about him team after a game is truly remarkable. He could have used those exact same words many times over during his time here. Glad to see he packed them in his bags with him last February and has found good use for them.
When asked his thoughts on the position he now finds himself in, he quipped, “Yeah, I mean, what do you think. We’re still100 points out of the playoffs”.
Well, really maybe only 70 or so. But we get the point.
As loud as the booing was for Kovy from most of the season-high crowd of 17,024, there were plenty of “Moose” calls for another former Thrashervillian, Johan Hedberg. Moose came on in relief of Martin Brodeur after captain Andrew Ladd put the Thrashers up 4-0 in the second period.
Yes, the “Booooooooooo”s for Kovy were loud, as were the “Mooooooooooooose” calls for Hedberg. But it was Eric Boulton and the now-first place in the southeast and second place in the east Atlanta Thrashers that are making most of the noise in the hockey world these days.
Boultsy with a hat trick…the Thrashers beat the Devils by six…Hainsey off The Schnide…Atlanta fans cheering for a New Jersey backup goalie…Atlanta scoring 12 more goals than they’ve allowed all year…the Thrashers atop the division and second in the conference almost halfway through the season…Atlanta on an11-2-2 tear over the past month or so…and a large rowdy crowd at Philips Arena, all beginning to believe the playoffs this spring are a real possibility.
My goodness. I hope that Salvation Army truck got where it was going…’cuz el Diablo must simply be shivering.
What’s that I see Mr. Devil…a snowflake? Better bundle up…it’s gonna be a long winter.