Who is your Thrashers first half of season MVP?

Happy New Year Thrasherville and welcome to the middle of the season. Hopefully everyone out there had a great time ringing in 2011 and I truly wish everyone the absolute best in the coming year. Today brings with it the hopes and possibilities of what can be…as well as college bowl games a-plenty and the NHL Winter Classic in Pittsburgh.

By the way, speaking of today’s much-anticipated matchup against the Pens and Caps…in case you haven’t heard, it has been moved back to 8:00 tonight because of weather issues.

What today also marks is the exact middle of the 2010-11 Thrashers campaign. Yesterday’s lackluster 3-1 loss to the worst team in the NHL was game number 41 of the season and tomorrow afternoon’s tilt in Montreal begins the first game of the final 41. So naturally, today is the perfect time to mark just where this Thrashers team is currently, what they have done so far and look ahead to the possibilities of the next three-plus months.

Much like he did on this play to New Jersey’s Rod Pelley, Thrashers defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has made quite an indelible impression on Atlanta hockey fans (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Much like he did on this play to New Jersey’s Rod Pelley, Thrashers defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has made quite an indelible impression on Atlanta hockey fans (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

We wake up this morning… possibly grabbing for a package of Alka-Seltzer and/or ice pack… to find the Thrashers with a record of 20-15-6. If they were simply to duplicate this effort in the second half of the season, they would wind up with 92 points and a playoff spot. All things considered, they are at or above where most of us though they would be and we can all be happy for that…despite their 1-4-1 record in the final six games of 2010.

However, as defenseman Ron Hainsey puts it, “It’s been a hard month, as hard as any I’ve seen since I became a pro. We battled through it and came out pretty well”.

“We’re pretty proud of what we’ve done so far”.

The Thrashers are in third place in the Southeast Division, three points behind both Tampa Bay and Washington. However, they have played three more games than the Lightning and two more than the Capitals. Atlanta is eighth points above fourth place Carolina, however the Canes have played but 36 games.

The Thrashers are in seventh place overall in the Eastern Conference, tied in points with the New York Rangers but having played three more games. The Montreal Canadians are a pair of points behind them and have two games in hand. So tomorrow’s game shapes up to be a pretty important one for both Le Thrash and Habs.

Atlanta has netted 127 goals so far this year. That is only one fewer that the Flyers’ and four fewer than Colorado and Detroit, who lead the NHL in goals scored. They still give up a concerning amount of goals, however…122 goals against so far is fewer than only the amount surrendered by the Avs and Edmonton.

The Thrashers are taking an average of 30.8 shots on goal per game and allowing 34.4, which are 14th and 28th in the league respectively. Atlanta has a 20.9% effective power play so far, (9th) and they are killing off 80.8% of the opposition’s man advantage situations, (18th).

Not a lot has gotten past Ondrej Pavelec this season. He is 13-8-4 with a .935 SV%, 2.11 GAA and 2 shoutouts (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Not a lot has gotten past Ondrej Pavelec this season. He is 13-8-4 with a .935 SV%, 2.11 GAA and 2 shoutouts (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Leading the way almost all season long has been defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. He leads the team in goals scored, 15, assists, 25 and overall points, 40. To top it off he’s also +6 and has played in all 41 games for the Thrashers. 5 of his goals have been game-winners, 5 have been of the power play variety, 12 assists have also come while on the man advantage and his 162 SOG also lead the Thrashers.

The Buffinator has quickly become the heart and soul of this new-look Thrashers squad and has endeared himself to the fans with his play. To me, he’s been the MVP of the first half of the season.

Right behind Big Buff in scoring is captain Andrew Ladd and fellow defenseman Toby Enstrom, both with 31 overall points. Ladd has done that with 12 goals and 19 assists while Toby has 7 goals and 24 helpers.

As for Ladd, the Thrashers are 13-6-3 since he was named team captain back on November 18. Is it just a coincidence that the team seamed to take off right after that announcement? I don’t think so.

Fresh off his first ever NHL career shootout victory, Ondrej Pavelec is now 13-8-4 for the year with a very tidy .935 SV% and 2.11 GAA. Given the amount of goals and shots allowed by this team, those numbers are even that much more impressive. Opie also has a pair of shutouts to his credit, both coming a week apart back in November against the Caps and Habs.

A win in Montreal tomorrow would equal his career best of 14 wins in a season set last year playing in 42 games, starting 40. He’s played in just 27 games this season and has started 25.

Opie would be my second choice as MVP, just a fraction of a hair behind Byfuglien. However, if he performs at the same level from here on out, don’t be stunned if he winds up as this team’s Most Valuable Player.

Who is the Thrashers MVP for the first half of the season?

  • Dustin Byfuglien (42%, 108 Votes)
  • Ondrej Pavelec (49%, 126 Votes)
  • Andrew Ladd (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Toby Enstrom (6%, 16 Votes)
  • Bryan Little (2%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 255

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The +/- leaders for this team are Bryan Little, +12, Brent Sopel, +10 and Eric Boulton who is a +7. Ron Hainsey, Chris Thorburn and Byfuglien are each a +6.

Brent Sopel has blocked 60 shots this year, Enstrom 85, Ron Hainsey and Johnny Oduya have both knocked down 82.

Your hits leaders are Evander Kane with 73, Buff with 69 and Jim Slater with 59.

As for the men behind the bench, it’s certainly clear that for the most part these Thrashers have taken what coach Craig Ramsay and associate coach John Torchetti have been teaching and applied to their games. These coaches deserve a great deal of credit for where this team finds itself. There is still much work to be done, mind you…see also the past week and a half or so of play…but when viewed in the context of the initial three months of this season, I don’t of too many that can be upset with what has gone on here.

And finally, I haven’t offered up any “report cards” per se on this Thrashers team this season. I figure this course will be determined solely on a “PASS/FAIL” basis. They either make the playoff or they don’t. Therefore, no letter grades are necessary this time around.

That being said, if I were to give them a mid-term evaluation…I would say they are well on their way to “PASS”.

79 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz as Yogi Berra

January 2nd, 2011
7:26 pm

Scoring more than the other team is just as good as winning.

Get The Puck Out

January 2nd, 2011
8:04 pm

After this game i believe even more that OP is the MVP. He can steal games, so i guess that makes him a puckin thief!

Lee

January 2nd, 2011
8:34 pm

I think Pavs deserves the “MVP.” He’s been solid almost the whole season and is also probably the most improved player from last year to this one….He’s 2nd in the league in save percentage with .936 trailing only by the stellar Tim Thomas. He’s also 3rd in the league in goals against average with 2.14 trailing only Jonathan Quick and yes…Tim Thomas.

What a game for him to start off the New Year! We owe that one to him with 47 out of 50 saves.

How about that P.K. Subban? Have to admit, he was pretty impressive today. ;)

R. Stroz

January 2nd, 2011
8:54 pm

Does the P.K., in P.K. Subban, stand for PUNK?

LAC

January 2nd, 2011
9:27 pm

Great Goaltending won today, OP was FANTASTIC ! We Must cut the SA a lot, I whole lot.

Was SAD to see little zach out there LOST again and Again, he just stinks on defense,
out of position at least 80% of the time, Awful to have to keep watching this kid. Does he EVER Learn ????

Got help from Florida who beat NYR 3-0 to keep them just a point ahead. BUT… we have played 42 games this season so far and some teams like Carolina have 5 games in hand on us…

Need help from the bottom feeders, NJ/NYI/Tor and the West to assist us in any win they can.

Hope for a solid win Wednesday in Florida… Could be tough…

Lastly… If you have Not noticed… Atlanta is now THE Highest scoring team in the NHL, I am
Amazed at that feat, Outstanding, Ilya WHO ???? Hope he is having “fun” in NJ !!!!!!

Brendan

January 2nd, 2011
10:30 pm

Glad they won. The reply is on SPSO at 11PM. I might as well repeat my post from earlier this blog. We can’t expect Byfuglien to save the day every time we go to overtime. We can’t play Toby Enstrom 26 minutes-a-game, without its taking its toll. And asking Pavelec to make 40 or more saves, like today’s 47, is unreasonable. We’re jumping up and down … because he’s handling it well. What happens when he doesn’t?

We’re still a work in progress. We need to tighten up, defensively. But, I suppose, in the end … all that really matters … is winning. Which we did. We tossed a “pity” point to Habs, with that late goal, though. They play in our conference. We’re 2-4-1 in our last seven? I love OT and shootout wins, because they’re very exciting. But really, I’d rather close out in regulation time.

JLH

January 2nd, 2011
10:31 pm

LAC – I couldn’t agree with you more about Bogosian . I don’t believe he has the smarts to play defense at the NHL level and his offense is suffering because of it. I feel sorry for Oduya…… I believe covering for Zach’s mistakes is causing his game to suffer tremendously….. If Ramsay is going to sit Eager and Bergfors, I don’t see why he won’t sit Bogosian…. he is just not picking up the simple stuff, I wouldn’t be sad to see him packaged in a trade while his potential is still an asset. Petriangelo (picked just after Zach by St Louis) has flown past him after spending some time in the AHL…. the problem is, we don’t have a good system to develop talent at Chicago so Zach just struggles here.

Red Light

January 2nd, 2011
11:25 pm

I’m not saying Buff isn’t a dynamic offensive talent, with a huge, huge shot, and no doubt that without his offensive contributions and timely goals, the Thrashers wouldn’t be where they are right now (third place in the SE). But, 9 of his 16 goals so far were assisted by Enstrom, and Byfuglien doesn’t play on the penalty kill like Enstrom.

They both have benefited handsomely playing with the other – that’s all I’m saying. Buff will make the all-star team, but Enstrom and Pavelec are most worthy too.

LAC

January 2nd, 2011
11:37 pm

JLH, cofrect indeed. I have taken notice of some of the “looks” Oduya has had at him after plays, If
looks could kill so to speak. You also are correct, his play has slipped to that of an untested rookie.
He, really, looks lost at this level. His offense has been lackluster to say the very least and my
eight year old grandaughter could hit harder if she could skate. He is a creampuff out there.

But what bothers me most is his complete failure to read plays and react to them. He was standing around most of the game today, without a clue as to what to do. With ALL due respects…
Atlanta needs to trade him and get a solid player in return and I also agree, WHY do the coaches not SIT HIM, we are Better off with him in the pressbox than fumbling around the ice trying to be an NHL player.

Tom

January 2nd, 2011
11:55 pm

I think we are all in agreement with Bogo’s lack of defensive smarts. He is having a really rough time and is lost. Yet, he still has potential.

We may have the answer right in front of us though…

Big Buff was not able to cut it as a top 4 dman in Chicago so they through him and his big body up front. He was not setting the world on fire in Chicago as a forward until last years playoffs but then he exploded and now is a potential all star defenseman with the seasoning.

Could we tell Bogo, you are struggling, we need your salary for the cap and we do want you to develop, go and play forward for the rest of the season. With his big body he may do alright.

Then next year or the year after, after he regains his confidence and gets a little wiser we see if he is ready for the blue line.

Crazy talk I know, but so was asking Buff to play defense in July…

Brendan

January 3rd, 2011
12:08 am

Here’s your boxscore from NHL.com. http://www.nhl.com/ice/boxscore.htm?id=2010020573. Notice that Byfuglien was a +3 and Enstrom was a +2, while Bogosian was a -1.

Cornbread

January 3rd, 2011
12:31 am

8-6-3 in the very rough month of December and January 2nd! Who wouldn’t take that? They weathered the storm well and have set themselves up nicely for the playoffs and SE Division race. And, that is going to come down to the wire between ATL, TB, and DC.

Atlanta now faces the least amount of playoff contenders in the NHL at 23 – 11 at home. Carolina may be coming on strong but they still have 27 contenders to face. If they catch anyone it will be the NYR and MTL. The Rangers are in big trouble. They only play 11 non-contenders and face 31 contenders. So far they are 7-13-1 against playoff teams. The Thrashers are 13-11-6 against the big boys and still have 17 games to play against those with very little to no post season chance. MTL is 10-10-2 against playoff teams. They have 25 more to play against them and 16 against weaker teams. They will play 34 games against non-contenders – the most for those in the hunt – compared to ATL’s 29.

Lots has been said about the ridiculous December schedule. Get through it and things will be looking very good. Well, it wasn’t always pretty but they got through it. That’s what good teams do. Compare that 8-6-3 to the 4-10-3 (1-6-2 against playoff teams) exactly one year ago when their Kapitan quit on them. They also played 8 non-playoff teams during the same time frame last year compared to only 5 this year.

January is a much lighter and easier schedule that will give them plenty of time to rest and prepare. February could see them going on a huge run against all 11 teams who are either out of it or fighting for that last spot. March is busy with 14 games but well spaced and half the games are against non-contenders. April will be a good tune-up for the playoffs.

The Atlanta Thrashers are the real deal. They are all MVPs! Bring on the playoffs!

Cornbread

January 3rd, 2011
12:34 am

Oh Trixie… Posted some good stats at 12:30. At least I think they are worth a look. A little help please…

Hockey Biltong

January 3rd, 2011
1:06 am

Rammer is my MVP. He is the glue……

Alan R.

January 3rd, 2011
2:02 am

Byfuglien is a +2, Enstrom is a +3. Oduya was also a -1.

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2011
2:24 am

We need another RW who can score so why not try Bogosian? Bergy can’t get his act together, Modin is too old and slow to not be a liability on the backcheck and Stewart has hands of stone for reasons I’ll never understand — seriously some of these kids need to try a softer wooden stick. Anyway, Bogey has more speed than Bergy and Modin combined, has softer hands than Stewart for receiving passes, can skate better than any of them and his wrist-shot is well above-average. Why is he not playing forward? Make a trade for a guy like Beauchemin and solidify your top 4. Kulda is expendable now cuz he’ll never thrive in Rammer’s system so trade him to Burkie who loves big, strong D-men who can’t skate. Actually, I haven’t seen enough of Kulda to know what kind of a skater he really is but he seems like the yin to Bogey’s fast-skating yang. At any rate, we need another top 4 D-man and a scoring RW to make some real noise so let’s “git ‘er done Duds!”

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2011
2:28 am

Oh for crap’s sake I really need to stop posting from my BB!

Kulda and Bergy for Beauchemin and Boston’s #1 which will likely be outside the Top 16 (picks that is) and move Bogey to RW. Flip the #1 if Bogey doesn’t work out for a true scoring winger at the trade deadline and let’s go make some noise!!

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2011
2:33 am

Wooops! WTH am I talkin about? It was Boston who got Tronna’s picks!

Okay not-so-Smoothie, try and go to sleep before you say anything else that dumb.

World Be Free

January 3rd, 2011
7:50 am

Pavs is the MVP and Midfield brought up a good point about the man behind Pavs, Clint Malarchuk. Would Pavs have been this good with Willie Weeks as his coach? It all starts in goal folks, thought I give Buff and Toby big ups too.

How about dark horse MVPs?
Chris Thorburn. Kills penalties, block shots, challenges forwards and pointmen in the defensive zone instead of standing there and letting htem make plays.
Brent Sopel-blocks a ton of shots and is pretty sound in his defensive zone. Knows how to get the puck out of his zone without coughing it up to opposing forwards.

Old Time Hockey

January 3rd, 2011
9:00 am

Co-MVP’s…Big Buff and Pavs. Say what you want about Enstrom enabling Buff to do what he does…but he still has to do it and he has been finishing big. As far as Pavelec…I’ve said this a bunch…this team goes as the goaltending goes. He stands on his head and we win, he plays average and we don’t. So for the definition of most valuable player…we’d be no where without either one. But I still nominate Ramsay for Coach of the year, Dudley for GM of the year and Big Buff for Norris Trophy.

Larry E

January 3rd, 2011
9:02 am

Thrashers letting other teams spend way to much time in Thrasher zone. Shots on goal tell the story. Pavelec doing great job, but this will catch up sooner or later.

World Be Free

January 3rd, 2011
9:08 am

Larry E-totally agree, too much time and too many shots. The breakout plan needs to be revisited and revised.

Rawhide

January 3rd, 2011
9:32 am

G’Morning gang. Ya know…as I listened to yesterday’s game while driving through south Georgia, the one thing I couldn’t help but think of was the hypothetical MVP debate that we engaged in here over the weekend.

Buff with another game winner.

Opie with another awesome performance.

Toby with 3 more assists.

Hmmmm…as I opin here, it was as if each player given consideration for the first half of season MPV honors were doing their part to justify the support you guys threw their way.

Atlanta Needs "THE KIMMER" Back On-Air

January 3rd, 2011
9:40 am

If you voted for anyone other than Dustin Byfuglien or Ondrej Pavelec for the Thrashers First-Half MVP, you clearly haven’t been paying attention.

Zombie Steve

January 3rd, 2011
1:19 pm

My initial choice was Buff….but after additional analysis, I choose Pavs.

Zombie Steve

January 3rd, 2011
1:23 pm

WBF – Thorburn is an arguable case, Sopel…. not so much. His job doesn’t really go far beyond being a meat shield.

Thorburn, however, has transcended from a 4th line grinder into an impact player

ThrasherTim

January 3rd, 2011
2:31 pm

Great points here late on Thorburn. That guy does it all and has been winning a lot of board battles to start and continue cycles.

By the way, a weak game from Bergfors yesterday in Montreal. His time here has to be limited after 2-3 weeks of benching and not being able to change his ways.

R. Stroz

January 5th, 2011
10:22 pm

Rawhide

January 6th, 2011
11:15 am

R. Stroz – Nope.