After Christmas day snow, Thrasherville prepares for Lightning

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.

Dustin Byfuglien leads the Thrashers in goals scored. He'll also lead them back into action against the Tampa Bay Lightning this afternoon (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Dustin Byfuglien leads the Thrashers in goals scored. He'll also lead them back into action against the Tampa Bay Lightning this afternoon (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

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.

Ondrej Pavelec is 12-7-3 this season with a .940 SV%, 1.92 GAA and 2 shutouts. His performance has played a major role in helping the Thrasher to 6th place in the Eastern Conference as they head out of the Christmas break (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Ondrej Pavelec is 12-7-3 this season with a .940 SV%, 1.92 GAA and 2 shutouts. His performance has played a major role in helping the Thrasher to 6th place in the Eastern Conference as they head out of the Christmas break (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

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.

35 comments Add your comment

Matt

December 26th, 2010
7:48 am

Happy Boxing Day, Bill and go Thrashers. Hopefully, we’ll pull out of the little scoring funk we are in and beat the hated “Dolts”.

Joe Friday

December 26th, 2010
7:50 am

Merry Christmas. Bill! Thrashers playing great, a white Christmas . . . I can’t wait to see what comes our way this April

Sara

December 26th, 2010
8:09 am

I’m at the ‘rents in the mountains where we were blessed with a beautiful 6 or so inches yesterday and it’s coming down again. Maybe Thrash could drive the Zamboni up this way to fetch me.

Fan from Carolina

December 26th, 2010
8:14 am

Straight No Chaser just played at the Cobb Theater last Sunday. The wife and I really enjoyed the concert. Glad it wasn’t this Sunday because we are locked in here under 8″ of snow. Fortunately we chose the Lightning/Thrashers game on Jan 20 instead of today. I really appreciate seeing superstars in hockey and with Stamkos, St Louis, Lecavalier, and now Gagne how can you go wrong, especially if the Thrashers can knock them off somehow. One thing the Bolts do not have is anyone to stop Buff, and Ellis sure is shaky in net until the last few games anyway.

World Be Free

December 26th, 2010
8:53 am

Boy do I hate snow. Took a hockey break past 3 days went and saw “True Grit” before the snow hit yesterday. Watching someone play a John Wayne role is like watching a “new” Dirty Harry. Hoping to make the game tonight, not sure.

LAC

December 26th, 2010
10:20 am

Need at LEAST 6 points this week… Hope for The Best !!!!

Rawhide

December 26th, 2010
10:35 am

Per C-Viv tweets: “Niclas Bergfors will be a scratch. Either Nik Antropov or Tim Stapleton will be other forward out. Sharing time at right win[g] at practice. “…and…”16-47-80/14, 9-10-22, 21-8-19, 27-23-36.”

Also…”Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal for #Thrashers vs. Lightning.”

Scott

December 26th, 2010
11:39 am

I believe Enstrom is +6 and Little is + 13. Putting Little with Kane has improved Kane’s + numbers.

kracker

December 26th, 2010
11:58 am

My tweet about Bergfors when I saw Chris tweeting that he will again ba a healthy sctatch: “They MUST have a trade ready for Berg. Sitting that much talent, uninjured, for that long isn’t nautral for any other reason.”

Isn’t that about right? Every game Bergfors sits is a waste of talent if he is healthy and the team suffers for it. I can’t imagine Bergfors hasn’t gotten whatever message Ramsay was sending by now. He needs to play at least occasionally to stay in shape. They can’t sit him until the trade deadline, can they? And if Berg is injured it is a disservice to the player and probably against the CBA to not list him as so. It would certainly be unethical.

kracker

December 26th, 2010
12:00 pm

Oh, Rawhide (and anyone), come on down to the gulch for the tailgate. The wind is not up and there will be a nice fire so don’t be a wimp….not that I would ever say that about our favorite blogmaster.

Smoothie

December 26th, 2010
12:03 pm

Bill, two things:

1) You forgot Bryan Little who is tied for team lead at +13. Au Gratin Taters will be very, very upset with you.

2) Take a damn day off, would ya?! ;-)

kracker

December 26th, 2010
12:05 pm

He already had a day off. Christmas.

ben

December 26th, 2010
12:39 pm

Ah, Boxing Day . . .

You know what honestly blows my mind? The fact that the Devils are having such a bad year, and Kovy’s goal total is way down. I guess father time caught up to Martin Broduer (sp) I see the Thrash’s two game slump as a very minor setback. This team will get in the playoffs. This is a very sp[ecial year for the boys, and it’s good to see. The crowds will come. Oh yes they will. They won’t come this year, and maybe not next, but they will come. And once they arrive, my fellow bloggers, they will stay. Wanna know why? Because hockey is an addictive sport.

michael

December 26th, 2010
1:33 pm

ugh why is bergfors scratched again

JT from Columbus

December 26th, 2010
1:55 pm

When doe the roster freeze end? There has to be a trade soon for Bergie.

Mr. Heat Miser

December 26th, 2010
2:01 pm

Oompa Loompa Doopity Doo………….

Nate

December 26th, 2010
2:02 pm

I’ll be there tonight. Bringing a group of 12 friends. Hope they don’t get disappointed so they’ll come back again soon!

Rawhide

December 26th, 2010
2:53 pm

Scott & Smoothie – Yes, Little is the one with a team-leading +13. My bad. The post has been fixed. Thanks.

hockeymom92

December 26th, 2010
3:33 pm

Great Christmas at our house – the tax exemptions (well most are not exemptions any more though they do still reside in the home) got together and purchased tickets to Thursday’s game for hockeydad and myself! Woohoo – can’t wait!

Hockey Biltong

December 26th, 2010
3:51 pm

Good on ya Nate. We will be there too…
Go Thrashers!!!

Manley in AFG

December 26th, 2010
4:22 pm

Don’t forget to support Team USA as they look to repeat at the World Juniors starting today. My understaning is that NHL Network will broadcast all Team USA games. The two games against Canada last year were epic, just like the Olympics but with a better result.

Rawhide

December 26th, 2010
7:19 pm

hockeymom92 – That’s an awesome Christmas present. Good kids, obvioulsy!

Manley in AFG – I hope all is well with you, soldier. God bless you and all your fellow servicemen and servicewomen this holiday season.

Matt

December 26th, 2010
9:01 pm

Where, I ask, where has our scoring gone in the last 3 games?

Smoothie

December 26th, 2010
10:53 pm

Several random thoughts after witnessing that less than inspiring effort in front of a large post-holiday crowd:

1) The entire team seemed to start the game in a post-holiday fog and it cost them; Thrashers gave up the first 6 shots of the game and of course the first goal due to their lack of energy and focus.

2) Tampa’s trap is suffocating and in order to beat it, you must be willing to sell out in the corners to win puck battles. For some reason, only the Greek gods were willing to do so and most of the time when other lines were on the ice we were afraid to bring the 3rd man low to apply additional pressure on the Bolts. I understand not pinching in with a D-man, but you’ve got to bring a 3rd man into the play sooner when you chip deep with speed and two hard-charging forwards.

3) Dustin Byfuglien was absolutely awful tonite. On the other hand, Johnny Oduya was excellent. Problem is Byfuglien is often on the ice against Stamkos, St. Louis and company. On the 2nd goal, Dustin was busy pointing and barking orders to Toby or the backchecking forward rather than play his position and find a driving Lecavalier and tie him up so he couldn’t bang home a juicy rebound.

4) Coach Ramsay coached in Boston where they employ a swarming neutral zone trap when they are able to get an early lead. So it would seem he should be able to prepare his men to play against the trap in an effective manner when behind. A lot of times we seemed reluctant to press the center of the ice after moving the puck wide through the NZ. When we did press the middle of the ice with either the extra pass, a drop at the blueline or hard drive, we had success driving their D-men back into the slot and creating space to operate.

5) The Thrashers need to shoot a lot more against the Bolts and shoot quicker! Too many times they would make an extra stick-handle or go wider away from the D-man only to allow him more time to regroup and get his stick out to tip or deflect a would-be shot or pass. The Bolts’ D thrive when they are able to use their sticks and steer traffic outside. As a result, it is imperative that you get pucks on net early and force them to react and hopefully exploit their slower reaction time on loose pucks in the slot. We didn’t do this enough.

6) Freddy Modin may have scored a goal but he was nearly as bad as Bergfors. The difference is that Freddy Mo is actually trying hard. Too often the hands don’t react as quickly as his mind and this aging vet’s ice-time must be managed very closely. He tries to make the right reads and the right plays but when he does make a mistake it often results in an odd-man rush or a scrambling defense trying to stop Modin’s man. Conversely, Bergy has all the skill in the word supposedly but hardly uses any of it to his advantage. I’ve never seen someone with such “soft” hands fumble so many passes or lose pucks so easily as Niclas Bergfors. God help us if Antropov can’t get healthy.

7) It is time to call up Patrice Cormier especially if he is effective in the F/O circle. We can’t afford to keep pissing away offensive zone F/O after offensive zone F/O. I’m not sure if Cormier will win more F/O than Peverley or Slater, but he will help us with his ability to tie up the other center and buy time for Burmy or the other winger to swoop in and snag the puck. In addition, we need his sandpaper grit, savvy hockey mind and soft hands to help us win more battles in the corner and along the walls. Burmy needs help and he’s not getting enough of it from the likes of Ben Eager, Freddy Modin or Timmy Stapleton. Time to send Stapleton, who can go down without clearing waivers before January 4th, and call up Cormier. While we’re at it, we might as well waive Eager and bring up Spencer Machacek if he isn’t going to use his size to win some battles.

Sorry for the rant, but God I am so sick of losing to these sons of bitches from Tampa!!!

Brendan

December 26th, 2010
11:02 pm

The snow didn’t slow up the Lightning any. Oh well, Lecavalier does us in, again. At least, there was a point salvaged.

Michael "the abbreviation"

December 27th, 2010
2:01 am

Well I’m panicking… 3 losses in a row, and when will it stop? They gonna beat Tuxedo birds on the road? EHHH, wrong.. They gonna beat Boston after that…I think not.. Stendec is right, it’s time to panic Blueland cause I fear we will be staring down a 5 game losing streak..Lets face it, we can’t beat Tampa so we won’t win the division.. Now we can’t score, Pavs is still good but not unstoppable.. He gave up two weak rebounds for goals instead of handling and smothering them like his counter part Ellis.. Come on, wake up fans, follow Stendec and me, we will show you the light…

Cornbread

December 27th, 2010
3:04 am

I actually think Bergfors, Eager, and Modin had decent games tonight especially compared to Toby and Buff’s night. Burmi was also trying to do too much. Time to simplify it.

iamtheratio

December 27th, 2010
9:15 am

I think Burmi’s freelancing is good, but he needs to dump the puck or pass as soon as the D starts to pinch. He ends up creating a lot of extra space for his line-mates. However, his problem is, he tries to be a one-man-show. He should keep up the stick handling but as soon as the 3 D man go to pinch, pass it to an open winger for a wide open shot or play.

Fan from Carolina

December 27th, 2010
9:35 am

Will someone please give the Thrashers PK units some credit? They totally shut down an excellent PP unit all night until the 4 on 3 in OT. It was impressive!

EA

December 27th, 2010
9:42 am

As good as Buff can be, he can also be very careless. That stupid boarding penalty may have cost us the game. He also made some really “cute” moves that cost us as well. Pavalec deserves credit for the point we were lucky to get. The effort has not been there these last few games. The Lightning came out flying in the first and they are the ones who traveled to Atlanta. The big crowds have shown up this holiday season. This is not the time to start off slow as well as take stupid penalties. Dan Ellis literally stood around most of the night waiting for a shot. It is time to return to the game we were playing before these last few games.

EA

December 27th, 2010
9:47 am

Fan from Carolina, I stand with you giving them credit. No one could have stopped the last goal with that much talent standing in front of you. Also, we are right there in the mix with points and ranking in the standings. There is so much to be proud of this year.

Joe Friday

December 27th, 2010
10:30 am

I’m a little concerned that teams have scouted our system now and are figuring out how to shut us down. We always have trouble with Tampa’s scheme, but it’s becoming a trend here. Buff and Enstrom had awful nights, but Buff was still dangerous and had his chances.

Pavs literally kept us in that game, coach needs to mix his game plan up a bit, I think, as we go forward. Pens play a style we can skate with but Pavs is going to have to be on his game.

iamtheratio

December 27th, 2010
10:45 am

Joe: Don’t forget we haven’t had a day to Practice since Dec 9th until today? I think Rammer will get the job done but given are ridiculous busy holiday schedule, we haven’t had a chance to practice and get back to basics.

I think today’s practice will do us A LOT of good.

Fan From Carolina: The PK was pretty stellar, we only allowed 2 PP shots on that double minor Enstrom took. That’s pretty freaking impressive!

Red Light

December 27th, 2010
10:48 am

Joe Friday: Good points. Teams that forecheck well are giving the Thrashers problems lately, but Tampa just shuts down the neutral zone and if you can’t get through the neutral zone that means too much time is spent in your own zone. Boucher’s system is working well for them as they lead the league in shots against, and as many have pointed out, with Tampa’s goaltending and suspect defensive corps, that’s the only way they can be successful. The bottom six for them are very effective and they have done a great job filling in for Vinny, Gagne and Downie through their injuries. The fact they have only played 14 home games and 22 on the road, and still have mustered 47 points should keep them around for awhile. Thrashers have played 20 games at home and have earned just one more point in those games than Tampa has in 14 at home.

Tampa has three straight at home before another four-game road trip, but the crucial part of the Lightning’s schedule comes from January 23-February 25, which bridges the All-Star break. They play 12 straight games at home, and nine are against Eastern Conference opponents beginning with the last meeting with Atlanta on Jan. 23, three days after they play here for the final time this season.

Rawhide

December 27th, 2010
11:58 am

OK gang…here’s my take take on Big Buff’s boo-boo.