Teachable moment found in Thrashers OT loss to Lightning

If there is one thing we’ve heard consistently from coach Ramsay since he came here last summer, it’s that he wants to “teach” these Thrashers how to be “smart” hockey players. That means he wants in instill in them the ability to react when game conditions change…to be able to read the way things are developing and adapt accordingly…and to not make silly mistakes.

This lesson has been taken to heart for the most part of the initial half of the 2010-11 season…and the winning record reflects that. But every once in a while, there comes a moment where one play from one player can dramatically alter the course of the game. Such a moment came late in Sunday’s matchup against the division rivals Tampa Bay Lightning.

Atlanta had not played particularly its best game of the season to say the least. Some of that had to do with those wearing the home blue uniforms…a lot of it had to do with the way the Bolts play against us. However, thanks in part to a rebound game-tying goal by Fredrik Modin and a couple of key saves by Ondrej Pavelec late in the third period, the Thrashers found themselves in a position to snare two points in the standings.

Ryan Malone reacts to Vincent Lecavalier's overtime goal Sunday night (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Ryan Malone reacts to Vincent Lecavalier's overtime goal Sunday night (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Making matters even that much better, Victor Hedman had flipped the puck over the glass from Tampa’s defensive zone putting Atlanta on the power play with 1:13 remaining in regulation. This gave Atlanta a chance to steal away a win with a power play goal…or at the least go on a 4 on 3 man advantage in overtime for 47 seconds.

Now…I don’t know exactly what the success rate is for teams converting power plays in overtime is, but I’d dare say it’s pretty high. Case in point, it took Vinny Lecavlier and the Bolts a grand total of 26 seconds to do just that once Hedman was freed from the sin bin. But I digress…

The reason why the Lightning were able to go on the power play in the OT period and not the Thrashers was because Dustin Byfuglien had taken a very unnecessary and ill-timed boarding call with just over 10 seconds remaining in the third period. It was a penalty taken in the offensive end of the ice, it was born out of frustration from the defenseman and negated the power play.

It was momentary lapse of reason from Byfuglien…one that I’m sure he’d like to be allowed a Mulligan on. But it’s also exactly what coach Ramsay can point to as an example of just what results when…even if just for three lousy seconds…smart hockey is not displayed on the ice.

Not only did it take a way the coveted 4 on 3 situation for the Thrashers heading into to overtime…instead, allowing Tampa to skate 3 on 3 until their Hedman’s delay of game violation had expired… but it gave the opposition that 4 on 3 chance. And as pointed out above, it took them just over two-dozen ticks of the clock to use it fully to their advantage.

Making the unfortunate penalty even more egregious is the fact that it took one of the Thrashers defenseman and major special teams players off the ice when the game hung in the balance. And remember, Big Buff has already notched a pair of overtime game-winners so far this season. Having a clutch guy sitting in the penalty box at this juncture of the game…well, that’s simply un-good.

Now, make no mistakes here. Byfuglien has been nothing but a Godsend to this franchise. He has been an integral part of the team’s overall success during the first three months of this NHL campaign and he’ll be a major part of far more wins than he will be in disappointing losses.

But this mistake hurt.

What might have been a win leaving them one point behind Tampa Bay and two behind Washington in the race for the SE lead…they now trail both the Lightning and the Caps by three. Still a ton of hockey to play, mind you, but you get the point.

“Yes,” Ramsay told Chris Vivlamore after the game when asked about Byfuglien’s boo-boo. “He knows he made a mistake. Unfortunately it cost us. We still managed to get a point. We have to be smarter.

“We talk a lot of discipline”, he continued. “We’ve had it but we have to stay disciplined throughout the game no matter what’s happening around us.”

But, as it is said, what’s done is done. Ramsay’s aim now is to make sure the team…not just Buff…understands that what happened Sunday night is a prime example of what happens when you stop being “smart” out on the ice and allow your emotions to take charge.

Call it a teachable moment, if you will. A point in a long 82 game season that possibly cost you a point in the standings one of the teams they’re jockeying with for position…not just in the conference, but in the Southeast Division as well.

Mistakes happen in hockey…even at this level. But it’s the good teams and good players that learn from these errors and don’t repeat them. And this is what Craig Ramsay means when he speaks of “teaching” these Thrashers how to be “smart” hockey players.

97 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

December 27th, 2010
11:57 am

Alan R.

December 27th, 2010
12:06 pm

Red Light

December 27th, 2010
12:10 pm

It was a rookie mistake. The problem is Buff’s not a rookie. Egregious two-point error in a division game!

Missed you last night R. Stroz!

Smoothie

December 27th, 2010
12:24 pm

Hey Stroz, what do you think of Modin?

Flagstaff

December 27th, 2010
12:32 pm

Red Light: I don’t think Burmistrov, the team’s only rookie, would have ever made that mistake! :P

The boarding penalty by Byfuglien can justifiably be called the dumbest penalty of the season. However, as I said in Chris’ blog, they’ll rebound (hopefully very soon!). They aren’t as good as they were during their 6-game win streak, and they aren’t as bad as they are right now. This may not be a division-winning team… it IS a playoff team. Just so long as they get in the playoffs this year, I’ll be happy.

R. Stroz

December 27th, 2010
12:38 pm

Red Light – Decided to stay in last evening. After NOT going to the in-laws on Saturday due to bad weather, I knew better than to suggest going to the game Sunday evening. In the Christmas spirit, I realized it was better to maintain PEACE ON EARTH.

Smoothie – That blind squirrel sure is finding a few acorns by moving toward that metal and twine smell.

Darren

December 27th, 2010
12:39 pm

To be fair, Bogosian got away with a pretty blatant slash with about 2 minutes left in the 3rd.. Atlanta could have left with yet another regulation loss to the bloody Lightning.. the stench of He Who Shall Not Be Named still permeates that damn franchise and continues to curse Atlanta, even with He Who Shall Not Be Named on the other coast.

HookyBob

December 27th, 2010
12:43 pm

I noticed Buf was in more “after the whistle” pushing & scrums than in other games. Makes me wonder if part of Tampa’s game plan was the hassle him and get him off his game. If so it worked to perfection.

Flagstaff

December 27th, 2010
1:09 pm

Sorry for the double post! I just wanted to add that their team play corresponds to their play on the ice very much. They did not look like a team at all last night, for the most part. I know that Tampa plays a tight game, clogging up the neutral zone all the time, and that can very easily shut down a dump-and-chase style like Ramsay’s. However, this is not what really bothered me about last night. It just wasn’t a team game. Players weren’t ticking! Kane became Kovalchuk. Peverley never passed (he just did the same move where he tries to deke the goalie that failed the 5 times he tried it the last 2 games), and Ladd always passed! The Thrashers didn’t know who was shooting, who was scrapping for a rebound, and when to crash the net or retreat to the defensive zone. Here’s hoping for a return to the team play that got them wins!

Smoothie

December 27th, 2010
1:10 pm

Stroz – indeed. The man knows how to drive the lane and put home a put-back layup. However, it’s when he tries to do too much either along the wall or on the forecheck that he is easily exploited. Remember when Malone got loose for that break-in (luckily Pavs stoned him)? Well, not only was Big Buff out of position, but that was Modin’s man. And why was Modin out there 4 v 4 anyway?? I’m fine with him playing 10 mins / nite 5 v 5, but please for the love of God, no mo’ Freddy Mo’ on the PK or any reduced man-power situation!!

litz

December 27th, 2010
2:21 pm

Byfuglien is not a player to try and sweep stuff under the rug.

He’s made mistakes before, owned up to them, and done what’s necessary to ensure there isn’t a repeat. Presumption here is, this incident will be no different.

I’m sure both the coach and his fellow players were not afraid to vent after the game … that’s just the nature of this team : nobody’s sacred.

jimbo

December 27th, 2010
3:03 pm

The last three games, we’ve fallen into that losing pattern- slow to clear the defensive zone, goalies not controlling rebounds and dumb penalties. We need to tighten it up and start showing some aggressiveness. We’re too passive right now.

Rawhide

December 27th, 2010
3:14 pm

Just a reminder folks that you can still get some good deals on great seats to Thursday’s game vs. the Bruins.

Just click –>HERE<-- and use promo code RAWHIDE.

Also, I was just told that the Thrashers were so pleased with your response to this promotion that they will be setting up another RAWHIDE promotion for games in January. Details to come soon.

POM-POM

R. Stroz

December 27th, 2010
3:50 pm

Well, lets just hope that Buff’s frustration was due to the game and not contract negotiations.

cousin Eddie

December 27th, 2010
4:03 pm

Smoothie, I noticed that on the same play. Burmistrov was battling on the board in front of the tampa bench and Modin comes into the battle on the wrong side. I started yelling at the tv, “Wrong side IDIOT!” Wife comes in the room asking what is going on. I said watch Modin go into the play wrong, get caught and now loses his man. Why is he even out there on the PK? As soon as I got through with my ranting on Modin, he go and scores. My wife starts picking on me, “Modin shouldn’t be out there, why is he out there (in a whiny voice)”. I said he still sucks and he should of known better, he is a veteran not a rookie.

Smoothie

December 27th, 2010
4:10 pm

Gee Stroz, you really know how to make a guy feel depressed! :-p

NHL Ready

December 27th, 2010
4:11 pm

Chris is it getting close to the time to call up Patrice and let him get a little NHL time in. Not saying 15min per game just a quick see and get his feet wet. What do you guy’s think?

Smoothie

December 27th, 2010
4:15 pm

“Wife comes in the room asking what is going on. I said watch Modin go into the play wrong, get caught and now loses his man. Why is he even out there on the PK? As soon as I got through with my ranting on Modin, he go and scores. My wife starts picking on me…”

eddie – too funny. My g/f loves to poke fun at me when I get on a guy and that same guy ends up doing something well. In fact, she’d tell you it happens on more than just the odd, random occasion. But when you pick at guys as much as I do during a game, your odds are bound to be pretty good! ;-) Seriously though, what the hell is it going to take for Rammer to realize Modin SHOULD NEVER BE ON THE ICE SHORT-HANDED!!? Just like you said, as soon as he came towards the Bolts’ blueline to help out and lost the battle for the puck, I turned to my g/f and said this is going to end up in the back of our net. Luckily, Pavs was impervious on the play and owned Malone like he knew what he was thinking as he shot the puck. Phew!

Modin seems to have more “protection” playing with ham and eggers like Boulton, Thor and Slater as opposed to Eager (not always in the best position) and Burmy (who takes too many risks because he’s so skilled with the puck). They need to find that balance again. Gonna be tough without Antropov. Sigh.

Thrashers27

December 27th, 2010
5:18 pm

I blame the recent losing streak on Sopel’s haircut. Anyone else notice? He doesn’t look so goofy now. I also noticed that Bogo is playing without a shield these days. Could have sworn he used to wear one. Maybe he wants to be a tough guy now.

Red Light

December 27th, 2010
5:31 pm

Had a chance to speak with Dan Ellis, Pavel Kubina, Vinny Lecavalier and Guy Boucher yesterday. One quote from Kubina that wouldn’t work for the article, I share with you here!

“It’s always fun to come back here to play. I have some good friends here. It’s always nice to see those guys and it’s even better to beat them.”

http://www.sportssoutheast.com/index.php/red-light-report/59-nhl/239-lightning-ascent-began-at-the-top

AtlFlamesFan

December 27th, 2010
5:44 pm

Because their faces are so close to the ice, I think that High Sticking penalties should not be called when the player hit is 5′8″ and below (St. Louis!) :-)

Mr. Heat Miser

December 27th, 2010
5:49 pm

5′8″ on skates, maybe………..

Brendan

December 27th, 2010
5:53 pm

Excellent blog, Rawhide. Then again, I say that all the time. (Because it’s always true.)

Mrs. Zoomo

December 27th, 2010
5:55 pm

Buff’s penalty was almost as stupid as my brother-in-law taking my nephew to the Devils game last night…in the blizzard. Apparently 1,000 people were there to see them lose again. I still wonder why with a blizzard warning in Newark, the game wasn’t postponed.

AtlFlamesFan

December 27th, 2010
5:59 pm

I went by the TB media guide, but I don’t believe 5′8″ either. Same for Toby’s listed 5′10″.

LAC

December 27th, 2010
7:46 pm

Losses need to STOP NOW ! Next two will be tough, what has happened ?

Lastly where is that little PUNK jack edwards of boston ? Afraid ? What a Stupid punk, THE WORST IN THE NHL.

Come on edwards MAN UP, Meet me and take the BEATING you Deserve !!!, Bring your Stupid sidekick who is as worthless as $HIT TOO ! I will teach BOTH of you A$$HOLES not to lie about Atlanta !! Bring it on edwards you COWARD !

sisu

December 27th, 2010
8:08 pm

Biggest difference has been the rebounds by goalies, before the dmen took care of the puck after the initial save now they are not. Long way to go, first in SE would be great but top 8 in East is what I want!

FormerIslesFan

December 27th, 2010
8:28 pm

Funny, two very similar things happened at our house when watching the game. I backed up the DVR and showed Lilibeter the same thing about Modin defending in the “wrong side” of the play. She also said that it wouldn’t have been a high sticking penalty against a “real sized” hockey player!

Jason

December 27th, 2010
11:57 pm

Seems as though the Devils should be moved after only having 5,329 there last night. If there were a foot of snow in Quebec City, all those Diques would have found a way to get to the game! ;-)

dwayne

December 28th, 2010
8:19 am

Since there are only short diques in quebec city, they would have got lost in 2 inches of snow.

suzy-q

December 28th, 2010
8:38 am

Big disappointment Sunday’s game. I told my husband that the effort of driving to the Phil on Sunday from the snowy, icy north side of the city should earn us 2 points (once we got ITP it looked like it had not snowed/iced at all though.)

A year or two ago in line ahead of us to enter the Arena from the entrance by the GA World Congress Center for a game against Tampa was a little boy about 3 or 4 yrs old whose hand was held by a man who appeared to be his grandfather. The little boy had on a tiny ‘St. Louis’ jersey. I smiled at the man and said “he’s about as big as the player named on his jersey.! Ha, ha.” The man just looked at me blankly. Later I saw them getting in the elevator by the Jack Daniels bar going down to the players level. Wonder if that was Marteeeen’s dad and his little boy! Ouch.

Fan from Carolina

December 28th, 2010
9:50 am

Not looking forward to an angry Penguins team tonight after that non-effort against the Senators. If things get ugly I’ll be tuning in to the Bruins game against Tampa Bay. If the B’s can somehow win they might get a little too high (and confident) for Thursdays’ game, and the Thrashers will be ready.

Smoothie

December 28th, 2010
9:55 am

Here comes Cormier, here comes Cormier, right down Cormier way!

Perhaps it’s premature speculation on my part, but Patrice didn’t suit up for the Chicago Wolves last nite after playing in 11 straight. I have a feeling he was on a flight to Pittsburgh from Chicago instead. Not sure why the organization would be so secretive of this unless perhaps a trade is about to go down to free up roster space??

Get The Puck Out

December 28th, 2010
9:59 am

The Pens have lost only two less games as the Thrashers. What’s the big deal? Just go kick some butt and come home and crush the B’s! They shouldn’t need any motivation for that game. Go Thrash!!

Red Light

December 28th, 2010
10:06 am

Atlanta hasn’t beaten the Penguins in Pittsburgh since Dec. 27. 2006. Maybe there was some sort of four-year jinx that has now past. Penguins are only 4-3 in the first game of back-to-back situations (they play on the Island tomorrow night) and the Thrashers haven’t lost 4 games in a row all season.

Tampa Bay is 4-0 in their first game at home after a 3-game or longer road trip this season, AND, the home team has won 7 of the last 9 games in the series between the Bruins and Lightning. Bolts will be looking for major payback after getting blasted 8-1 in Boston on Dec. 2.

Smoothie

December 28th, 2010
10:53 am

Where in the hell is everyone??

Cormier called up per C-Viv and Stapleton demoted to CHI-town.

Be afraid Crotchby, be very afraid.

Tom

December 28th, 2010
11:02 am

Smoothie, do you think that Patrice will make his bones Thursday against Boston?

Another quick point, have you noticed how tough the Thrashers are now? Boulton, Thorburn, Eager, Cormier, Big Buff, and Kane should all be able to hold their own in any instance. Don’t tell me other teams do not notice that.

This is a nice foundation and why Bergfors is not fitting in. This is a team that should be able to go into any game and get dirty. Play hard in the corners and not worry about any of the repercussions. Add a little face washing and clearing out in front of the net on every play and teams will hate playing the Thrashers.

Most of the guys have speed and grit, Bergfors only has speed. Maybe Jersey will take him back in exchange for getting rid of a couple unhappy salaries for the playoff stretch by guys who understand this style of play.

R. Stroz

December 28th, 2010
11:42 am

Smoothie – Hey Bud-dy!

Smoothie

December 28th, 2010
12:01 pm

Hey Stroz-ier!

Tom – I think Patrice may pay dividends as early as tonite. We need some extra toughness and defensive awareness on the 3rd line in case Bylsma tries to exploit that line with Sid & Geno. Not sure if Bylsma will risk playing his bottom two lines against our top 2, but I can’t imagine he will be able to resist using his top line against our perceived weakness. But a trio of Burmy-Corms-Modin could be effective in slowing down their better players with some extra physicality, savvy and aggressive back-checking.

As for Bergfors, I fully expect a trade in the coming weeks. Don’t think Dudley will wait til the trade deadline because the month of January may be too important for our playoff hopes. We can’t afford to slip out of the top 8 and have the wheels come off completely. We shall see. At some point, we will need to add a scoring wing, but I’m not sure where it’s going to come from.

iamtheratio

December 28th, 2010
12:02 pm

Smoothie: Good call, you’re a natural Thrasherdamus!

Tom

December 28th, 2010
12:21 pm

Wow, per CViv tonights lines look fun, especially

8-9-10 Burmistrov – Kane – Little.

Other lines

Pevs – Ladd – Stewart

Eager – Comier – Modin

Boulton – Slater – Thorburn

World Be Free

December 28th, 2010
12:23 pm

Time to find out what kind of a captain Ladd really is-ths team cannot afford to lose to PIT and BOS this week. Time to right the ship.

Cormier!

Rightshot

December 28th, 2010
12:42 pm

I fully expect Pitt to try and start something as soon as they feel we are starting to play well. They have done it before and they will do it again.
Otherwise, I will be sitting on the couch in disgust as the media prays at the alter of Cindy Crosby.
Go thrashers

Smoothie

December 28th, 2010
12:42 pm

Indeed, this team needs to get back on track. Steal at least a point tonite and we’ll be okay for Thursday. Boston is not the kind of team we want to play when desperate for points. Hope Cormier can spark them and I like putting Burma’s skill with our best defensive player (Little) and Kaner’s speed. Just hope Kane gives up the puck early to get it back from Burma. Perhaps having Stewy as the “banger” on his line had Kane trying to do too much offensively as the “skill” winger.

Whatever it takes tonite, just win baby. I’ll take a 1 to 0 shutout with 7 shots on goal and 38 blocked shots. We know Cormier will do whatever it takes if he’s williing to dive and block a shot in a meaningless pre-camp rookie scrimmage.

iamtheratio – really thought Corms would get the call for Sunday but perhaps they wanted him to have “easier” travel from CHI to PITT. But we could’ve used him against the stingy Bolts.

iamtheratio

December 28th, 2010
1:02 pm

Smoothie; Yeah I agree, I wish PC was in for Tampa as well. We kinda of lost the work ethic over these last few games, I believe these new lines and PC will help boost that back to where it was. We need to work 110% for every inch of ice. We need to battle hard and hussle, like Rammer says “GO GO GO!”

I’m kinda of interested in seeing how Burmi, Little, and Kane will do now. Hopefully they wont be all over the place (Burmi/Kane), if so Little is going to be exhausted by the 2nd period. Anyway, these change def make tonight’s game that much more exciting!

Hockey Biltong

December 28th, 2010
1:06 pm

Nice to see Cormier get the chance. Perhaps we will see a win in the confluence of three rivers.

World Be Free

December 28th, 2010
1:18 pm

Hey Biltong, couldn’t miss you at the St. Louis game

Hoof Arted

December 28th, 2010
1:22 pm

Cormier being called up is great news. I can’t wait to see what kind of grit he can add to this lineup.

Red Light

December 28th, 2010
1:33 pm

Lets give the kid a little time to get used to things before you start expecting too much from him. After all, this is the NHL.

I liked Cormier the first time I saw him on the ice in Duluth and I liked his attitude when I interviewed him in July. In time, he should be able to do a lot for this team on both ends of the ice. Other teams will test him and try to get under his skin, but I expect some of the same awareness on the ice that Burmistrov has, and hopefully he’ll steer clear of bad penalties early on.

And, I am really very excited to see how Burmistrov, Kane and Little do together, not only tonight, but also during the next few games if Ramsay keeps them together. I think we might see more of Burmi’s offensive skills in the next few games than we have all season — he’s that versatile IMO.

A little note about guys from New Brunswick. Tonight if Cormier and Randy Jones of Tampa Bay do play, it will be the first time since March 15, 2008 that two New Brunswick boys play in an NHL game on the same night. Cormier will become only the 48th New Brunswick born player to make it to the NHL.

Red Light

December 28th, 2010
1:35 pm

World…Coming Thursday night for the Broons?