Archive for January, 2011

With All Star weekend behind us, a quick look ahead for the Thrashers

So now that the All Star game has come and gone, tell me what you think of the new format they used this go around. I’ll be honest with you, when I first heard of it I sort of rolled my eyes…thought it was a bit gimmicky. But watching how they performed the draft then how it all played out on the ice, the whole concept kinda grew on me.

It was neat seeing the Sedin brothers skate on opposing teams as well as teammates split up as well. It certainly made for an interesting time.

By all accounts, the city of Raleigh, North Carolina represented themselves well by hosting the event. That’s really not a surprise at all as the Hurricanes are a fantastic organization and Caniacs are among the best of hockey fans. So, hats off to them.

As I’m sure you know, the Thrashers Dustin Byfuglien notched his first ever All Star Game goal. It was his only shot on goal during his 22:18 TOI and he finished a –3.

Dustin Byfuglie, (right), along with Duncan Keith and goalie Jonas Hiller defend against Ryan Kesler during Sunday's All Star Game. Byfuglien and the Thrashers will return to action Tuesday night against the New York Islanders (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Dustin Byfuglie, (right), along with Duncan Keith and goalie Jonas Hiller …

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What the standings would look like if NHL counted only Ws and Ls

This weekend the NHL takes a big timeout in the schedule for the All Star Game. And one of the things I like to do during such breaks…or like last year when they take a two-week hiatus for the Winter Olympics…is to examine the overall standings while they sit still for a few days. But I don’t just look at where the 30 teams in the league find themselves in the conventional standings…with two points given out for wins and one for an overtime loss…but also where things would stand if the NHL simply counted wins and losses as they do in Major League Baseball, the NBA and NFL.

Call it the Ws and Ls standard, if you will.

I did this last season when the league halted for the Vancouver Games. Then, I found that only minor change. But this year there are a few teams that would benefit greatly if this were the case…and a few that would see their position in the standings adversely affected.

First, lets have a look at the standings today as the NHL calculates them. As you …

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Pavelec shutout helps Thrashers win one just in the Nik of time

Things haven’t exactly been hunky-dory in Thrasherville during the month of January.

A 3-4-3 record and winners of just one regular season game since New Years had the team clinging desperately to their eighth place position in the Eastern Conference. Key players have been bitten by the injury bug to the point that a M.A.S.H. unit could have been stationed outside of the practice facility at the Duluth Ice Forum.

Not Slater, No Kane, No Mason and most recently, No Toby. All tending to various ailments.

Players like Dustin Byfuglien and Alex Burmistrov have been mired in scoring slumps…Big Buff being held goalless since his overtime game winner in Montreal on the second of January while the rookie hasn’t dented the score sheet since assisting on Byfuglien’s goal during a 3-1 loss in New Jersey on New Years Eve.

And then there’s Ondrej Pavelec…who at times could have sued his teammates for non-support…finally fell to “human” status in the past few weeks, going …

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The State of the Thrasherville Union address

The Speaker of the House gavels open the State of the Thrasherville Union address. The assembled representatives take their seats as Rawhide makes his way to the microphone.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, dignitaries and everyone tuning in throughout the Thrasherville blogosphere…

The Atlanta Thrashers are well into the latter half of their eleventh season of play in the NHL. Last summer saw great change in the front office, coaching staff and roster…all of which led to an overall sense of hope from the fans as they entered into the current campaign last fall. And while there have been some stumbles along the way, this team has managed to maintain a playoff position in the standings for the better part of the first half of the season.

It is with that in mind, that I am proud to proclaim that state of the Thrasherville union is strong.

applause erupts from the assembled masses in the chamber

Together, the new GM and coach have made a New Beginning. But we have …

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It’s Groundhog Day in Thrasherville

It’s here, gang…Groundhog Day, that is. No, not the annual celebration that comes on February 2 when the meteorology world turns it’s eyes toward rodents to prognosticate the weather. I’m talking about the Bill Murray movie in which a Pittsburgh weatherman experiences the torment of repeating the same day over…and over…and over…and over…and over again.

For three straight times, the Thrashers and their opponents have required the individual skills competition known as a shootout to determine the winner of an otherwise tied game. The past two, versus Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers, have seen them fail to protect a 2-1 lead at the second intermission and watch the visiting team skate away with the much-coveted second point in the standings.

Last Monday, it was they who snatched away two points down in Florida after trailing 2-0 late in the third.

I can just imagine radio voice of the Thrashers Dan Kamal as he brings the game to Thrasherville bemoaning yet …

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The Atlanta Spirit – Lies, Lawsuits and Contempt

So…the Atlanta Spirit, LLC lied to us, did they? When asked many times over if they intended to sell the Thrashers organization over the past several years, they denied it…only to reveal in court documents recently that they had indeed looked to do just that. Not only that, but now we’ve learned of yet another lawsuit being entered into by the ownership cluster known as the Atlanta spirit, LLC.

The LLC, it seems, could now stand for Lies, Lawsuits and Contempt for the fans.

Really, no one should be terribly shocked to learn that one of…if not THE…most dysfunctional collection of businessmen ever to own a sports franchise actually dared to speak untruths to their paying population. The Great Octocluster has from day one proved themselves to be unworthy of our unquestioning trust.

One can’t help but wonder how much healthier their NHL team would be if they had invested as much money in it as they have on legal representation over the past six years. But as it stands …

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Thrashers in position to play musical chairs for playoff spot

There are some times when you come away from a hard-fought overtime/shootout loss and you’re almost happy with the point earned in the standings. There are other times when, for a number of reasons, you just see that extra point as having been stolen away from you by the other team.

To me, Thursday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning was more like the latter of those two scenarios.

It’s not just the fact that the Bolts snuck out the back door of Philips Arena with yet another win against the Thrashers…their tenth in a row dating back to opening night of last season…but it was the third straight time they did so in overtime against Atlanta. It’s as if the Lightning have become the Thrashers personal tormentor lately…dangling the second, much-needed and highly-sought after second point in front of our faces only to snatch it away at the very last second. They then skank off the ice, chuckling under their collective breaths.

It’s almost …

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Tonight’s game vs Lightning isn’t a ‘must win’ for Thrashers, however…

Last night I sat down at my desk and performed a little advanced math exercise. Armed with graph paper, a slide rule, calculator and a No. 2 pencil, I figure something out that just might interest you. Now, I’ll spare you the lengthy explanations nor shall I bore you by posting charts and graphs here, instead going straight to the conclusion.

If the Atlanta Thrashers do indeed lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight…whether it be in regulation or overtime…they will still have a mathematical chance to make the playoffs this spring.

Again, there’s really just not enough time and space here to explain the “whats” and “whys” involved with this finding. So, just take my word on this.

With that in mind, placing the “must win game” label on tonight’s matchup with the division rival would not be fitting, in my opinion. However, I must admit that to me there is an extra importance to this evening’s battle with the Bolts. I say that for a couple of reasons.

Evander Kane makes his way around Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman during the 2009-10 season opening game. Kane scored his first NHL goal that night and the Thrashers won 6-3. It was also the last time Atlanta beat the Bolts (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

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Thrashers ‘fire’ Ben Eager all the way to San Jose

The last time we saw Ben Eager play was on January 7th when he skated off the ice of Philips Arena after receiving a match penalty for sucker punching former Thrasher Colby Armstrong. 14 of his team-high 77 penalty minutes came during that forgetful game…and afterwards I made it clear I would not mind it if he never donned an Atlanta jersey again. If GM Rick Dudley traded him away for a fifth or sixth round pick, that suited me just fine. Many of you agreed.

Well… looks like we got our wish.

Ben Eager celebrates one of his 3 goals as an Atlanta Thrasher last November. On Tuesday he was thrown to the Sharks by general manager Rick Dudley AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Ben Eager celebrates one of his 3 goals as an Atlanta Thrasher last November. On Tuesday he was thrown to the Sharks by general manager Rick Dudley AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

As I’m sure you’ve heard, once he served his four-game suspension for that incident, the Atlanta Thrashers traded away Eager to the San Jose Sharks Tuesday. The move really came as little surprise given the amount of time he had already spent in coach Ramsay’s doghouse this season. In exchange for the 23rd …

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Late rally catapults Thrashers to win against Panthers

Was I worried at all when the Thrashers found themselves down 2-0, having to pull their goalie with around two minutes left to play in the game? Did I sweat at all knowing they were in danger of losing their fifth consecutive game and continue their January death spiral towards the lower portion of the Eastern conference standings?

Nahhhhhhhh…I know the Thrashers had the Florida Panthers just where they wanted them all along.

Yeah, your Sarcasmatron just went off.

Brian Little came up big on this night…scoring to get the score to 2-1 with just under two minutes left in regulation then helping to set up Chris Thorburn’s game-tying tally just 44 seconds later. Little then notched a score in the shootout to help procure the win.

Andrew Ladd congratulates Ondrej Pavelec after he stopped all three shootout tries by the Florida Panthers. The Thrashers came from behind to steal two points in Florida Monday night (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Andrew Ladd congratulates Ondrej Pavelec after he stopped all three shootout tries by the Florida Panthers. The Thrashers came from behind to steal two points in Florida Monday night (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

And while it’ll be natural to marvel at …

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