Good morning gang. Whether it was Christmas, Hanukkah…or even the “Festivus for the Rest of Us“…I sincerely hope that you’ve been having a great holiday season. For those of us in the metro Atlanta area, it was a white Christmas as the city was blanked by a layer of the flaky white frozen precipitation all day. Here at the Rawhide Ranch near Acworth, there was just shy of 2 inches atop the back deck railing. Certainly made for quite the picturesque scene, indeed.
However, in the words of the team’s marketing department, it’s time to WAKE UP ATLANTA…time to awake from our brief holiday respite and jump back into action.
That’s right kids, it’s the 26th of December. To some, that’s Boxing Day. To many, many others however, it’s the Great Christmas Gift Return and Exchange Day. In that spirit, the Thrashers have set up their Brutal Bad Gift Exchange for you to ditch those flashy neckties, holiday sweaters, tacky scarves and other assorted presents we appreciated receiving…but know we’ll never use/wear. Just bring those gifts to today’s game against Tampa Bay or Thursday’s versus Boston and you’ll receive a voucher good for two tickets to games in January. These gifts will then be donated to The Salvation Army.
The Lightning head into Thrasherville tonight as the current leaders of the Southeast Division. Their 45 points match those of the Washington Capitals, but they’ve played two fewer games then have the Caps. Atlanta trails by but two points and, like Washington, has suited up for 37 games this season.
From a conference perspective, the Lightning are second only to Pittsburgh while the Capitals and Thrashers hold on to the fifth and sixth spots respectively. The New York Rangers follow closely behind with 42 overall points while the Bruins sit in the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference with 40 points. After that, you’ll find the Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators in ninth and tenth place in the east with 34 points apiece.
After today, the Thrashers will then travel up to Pittsburgh for a Tuesday night date with the top team in the league, the 24-10-2 Penguins. After that, it’s back home for a rematch against the Boston Bruins before a New Years Eve party in New Jersey.
So, with the second overall seed in the conference just two points above us and the last playoff spot just three points below us…and the two teams that hold those positions on our slate this week with the Pens sandwiched in between… it’s quite obvious that the Thrashers won’t have great deal of time to shake off any holiday hangovers. After all, if there is one thing we don’t want returned anytime soon during this post-Christmas season, it’s the position our team has found themselves in the standing.
If you’re looking for good deals on tickets for today’s game and Thursday’s…remember you can still click –>HERE<– and enter promo code RAWHIDE.
With that, here’s a quick look at some of the Thrashers team and individual stats coming out of the Christmas break…
Atlanta’s .581 points-winning percentage is the fifteenth best in the NHL and eighth best in the Eastern Conference. A .581 PW% over an 82 games season would net a team right at about 95 points in the standings.
Scoring goals at a 3.16 per game clip is sixth best in the league. Their 2.81 GA/G is 16th in the NHL. The 30.1 shots per game stat is good enough for 13th most while the 33.9 SA/G is better than only Carolina’s 34.4, Edmonton’s 34.5 and Anaheim’s 34.6.
The once-highest rated power play has slumped a bit of late. Still, they are capitalizing on 21.3% of their man-advantage situations, which gives them the 8th highest PP in the league to date. The 80.2% penalty kill efficiency ranks 21st overall.
In between the pipes, Ondrej Pavelec is 12-7-3 with a .940 SV% and 1.92 GAA. Tell me if you would have fathomed that last October. I know I wouldn’t have, but it is where the Thrashers success has really begun. Maybe having a goalie consultant on board has been a help. Who’d of thought that?
With a goal in Boston last Thursday, Dustin Byfuglien finds himself as the team’s leading goal scorer. He has 13 on the season, just six off his career-high of 19 set three seasons ago. Five of those goals have been game-winners. The 37 overall points tops the 36 set that year as his new best ever total.
Big Buff is also a +9, which is third-highest on the squad behind Bryan Little’s +13 and Brent Sopel’s +11. In fact, 12 Thrashers are on the correct side of the +/- stat. Evander Kane, Tim Stapleton and Alex Burmistrov are EVEN.
Captain Andrew Ladd has 12 goals and 19 assists. He’s well on his way of topping his career highs of 17 goals set last year as a Blackhawk. His highest assists total of 34 and points total of 49 set two seasons ago are also well with reach.
Evander Kane has 11 goals and 12 assists in his second NHL campaign. Last year as a rookie he accounted for 14 goals and 12 assists plying in 66 games. He’s a +2 now in 104 career games.
This year’s rookie phenom Alex Burmistrov has 5 goals and 8 assists. Two of those tallies have been of the game-winning variety.
Your penalty minutes leader is Ben Eager with 61. Behind him is Kane with 42 and Byfuglien with 39. Oddly enough, Eric Boulton…the Thrashers enforcer of recent years…has only 24 PIM in 31 games.
Speaking of Boultsey, his hat trick against the Devils gives him 4 goals this year. Twice before…2005-06 and 2007-08…he’s netted as many as four. He’s now got a little over half of the season to set a new personal best of five.
Anthony Stewart continues his surprising breakout year. His 10 goals and 13 assists are already by far his most ever. Stewey is also a +5 after 37 games.
Players that have suited up for all 37 games this season include Stewart, Byfuglien, Enstrom, Ladd, Burmistrov, Ron Hainsey, Chris Thorburn, Johnny Oduya and Rich Peverley.
And finally…before Holiday Season 2010 officially departs, I’d like to share with you all this little ditty called The Christmas Can-Can. Much thanks to my good friend and frequent blog comment contributor Rightshot for forwarding this to me.