Thrashers head to south Florida for a catfight

When the Atlanta Thrashers take to the ice tonight in Sunrise, Florida to play one of their division rivals, it will mark the seventh time in the last eight games that they’ve faced off against a team with a winning record…and ninth time in the last twelve.

Yes…we are talking about the Florida Panthers here.

The Panthers have begun 2011 by scratching out a pair of wins against the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes. They have won 2 straight, are 5-1-2 in their last 8 games and 8-3-2 in their last 13 games.

In doing so, they’ve moved their record to 18-17-2… which in the wide-wide wacky world of NHL hockey counts as a winning record since 38 overall points after 37 games played amounts to a .514 points winning percentage.

Seeing the Florida Panthers above .500 in the standings happens just about as often as a hard freeze in South Beach. It’s the first time all season that the Panthers, who are last in the Southeast Division and tenth in the Eastern Conference, have poked their heads above the “break even” mark this season and it’s been since last February since they could boast such a record. Back then they were 24-23-9.

The last time the Thrashers and Panthers squared off was last November 17 when Atlanta kicked off a six game home stand. Florida won by a whisker that night by the score of 2-1. It lifted them to an 8-8-0 mark at the time…and left Atlanta at 7-9-3 and losers of 3 straight.

From what I have been told, during the second intermission of that game, there were a number of players in the home locker room that joined the coaching staff in making it very clear what they thought of the effort coming forth from a select few. They were upset because a 1-0 first period lead had slipped away during the second period…a period in which they allowed 16 shots on goal and saw the visiting Panthers spend so much time in the Thrashers defensive zone that they could have filed for Homestead Exemption.

Players were denied ice time in the third period and over the next several weeks, a couple of those players that found their way in the dog house…cough…Nic Bergfors… cough…Ben Eager…saw their time in the press box increase.

The next day, Andrew Ladd was named team captain and the Thrashers have played to a 14-6-3 record ever since.

Stephen Weiss leads the Panthers with 12 goals scored on the season. He has five in the past eight games alone. Michael Frolik’s 25 overall points, (8 goals, 17 assists), is tops on the Florida roster.

Tomas Vokoun, who stopped 38 of 39 Thrashers shots in their November 17 win, is now 15-13-1 with a .926 SV% and 2.43 GAA. Last Sunday he pounced on all 32 shots faced against the Rangers for his fifth shutout of the season.

Florida’s anemic 9.4% effective power play is dead last in the NHL but they boast the 8th best PK unit, killing off 84.0% of their opponent’s man advantage situations.

As I’m sure you already know, Dustin Byfuglien leads the Thrashers with 16 goals and 41 points. He has six power play tallies and six game-winners, including the blast in overtime that beat the Canadiens up in Montreal Sunday afternoon.

In dishing out a trio of helpers Sunday, Toby Enstrom has taken over the lead in assists with 27.

In between the pipes will be Ondrej Pavelec. Opie is 14-8-4 with a .936 SV%, 2.14 GAA and a pair of goose eggs laid up on the scoreboard. A win in south Florida tonight would set an all-time mark for wins in a season for Pavelec.

Friday night, the Thrashers will return home to play the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’ll be the first of only five home games in the month of January, so there won’t be a lot of opportunities to head down to Philips to see a game over the next few weeks.

However, there are some good deals to be had on what home dates there are and you can take advantage of them by clicking –>HERE<– and using promo code RAWHIDE.

Also, the Thrashers have made available to readers of this little online forum a special offer on tickets for next Friday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. For just $31 dollars you can procure a seat in section 205 to watch take on one of the top teams in the conference. Those seats would normally go for $57.

But there is a very limited supply available at that price and they’ll go on a first-come, first-served basis. So if you’re interested in joining me and some of my friends there, contact Karin Beckman at 404-878-3781 or e-mail her at Karin.Beckman@atlantaspirit.com.

Just ask her for Rawhide’s POMPOM ticket offer.

96 comments Add your comment

R. Stroztradamus

January 5th, 2011
9:43 am

GOLD!

How’s that for on time?

Mortimer Peacock

January 5th, 2011
10:03 am

I’ve tried to calm Candi down about all this “Pavelec 4EVER” business. She won’t listen.

Red Light

January 5th, 2011
10:07 am

Last night’s timely shutout by Roloson in his first game for the Lightning, was just the 14th shutout for Tampa Bay in their last 368 games. They have three already this year but haven’t had at least four in any season since 2005-06.

Johnny

January 5th, 2011
10:12 am

Any word on possible trades?

Johnny

January 5th, 2011
10:12 am

World Be Free

January 5th, 2011
10:19 am

Red Light-always been a Beauchemin fan. I am sure we wants out of the Tronna nuthouse anyhow. Loafs will have alotta cap space, but who wants to go play there? Kaberle surely wants out of the nightmare he has had to deal with the past 2 seasons. Burke should have dumped Kabs when he had at least 1 year left on his current deal. Kaberle is just a rental now.

Red Light

January 5th, 2011
10:24 am

The Atlanta Thrashers have placed forward Ben Eager on Injured Reserve, retroactive to Dec. 28, according to General Manager Rick Dudley.

World Be Free

January 5th, 2011
10:27 am

Eager-seat slivers from the press box?

R. Stroztradamus

January 5th, 2011
10:49 am

I predict another Rawhide special ticket promo.

Rawhide

January 5th, 2011
10:51 am

OK kids…as promised, I just updated the entry above to show a new ticket offer for readers of this blog. Basically, you can get seats in section 205 for next Friday’s game against the Flyers for just $31. These are normally $57 seats.

However, there are a limited supply…so if you’re intersted, call Karin at 404-878-3781 soon and ask her for Rawhide’s POM-POM offer.

They’ll go on a first come – first served basis.

ThrasherTim

January 5th, 2011
11:19 am

What is the significance of placing Eager on IR versus just a scratch? It effectively does the same thing no? Same question on Antropov last week. He missed a couple of games, was placed on IR, then suddenly was in the lineup off IR?

Since we don’t have salary cap issues, is it just an opportunity to bring up someone from Chicago to have more available bodies?

Hoof Arted

January 5th, 2011
11:26 am

“Seeing the Florida Panthers above .500 in the standings is about rare as spotting cats in the ally behind a Chinese restaurant.”

Ew.

Thrashers need a big game tonight. This Panthers team is OK, but not great. Can not allow 50 SOG like in Montreal or we are gonna just wear Opie out!

Red Light

January 5th, 2011
11:26 am

“Since we don’t have salary cap issues, is it just an opportunity to bring up someone from Chicago to have more available bodies?”

TT: In short, the answer is yes. Guys on IR don’t count against the 23-man active roster, so if they want to recall someone from Chicago they can, and then you can healthy scratch 3 others. Slater is day-to-day, so he’s a scratch candidate, as is Meyer. So, I think they can recall Stapleton or someone else if they want.

Smoothie

January 5th, 2011
11:38 am

Per C-Viv, no call-up expected, but he didn’t say anything about a trade! Perhaps a trade is brewing and they need the roster space.

Hockey Biltong

January 5th, 2011
11:38 am

Candi has gum in her mouth.

Dwayne

January 5th, 2011
11:46 am

i look forward to that picture of those 2 ladies fighting every year.

R. Stroz

January 5th, 2011
12:21 pm

Hockey Biltong – Did you use New Year’s Eve as an opportunity to perfect the art of the elongated collapsible bullhorn?

Jon

January 5th, 2011
12:21 pm

Jethro

January 5th, 2011
12:22 pm

Whut them gurls need is sum mud mixed in.

ZAvalanche

January 5th, 2011
12:26 pm

@Hoof – Yeah, you are certainly correct. This is a very big game and the 50 shots on goal the Habs gave Thrashy is unacceptable. I don’t get to see all of the games but from what games I have seen OP and Buffy are carrying this team and their backs will soon be tired. The rest need to step it up. Big test tonight and good luck!

hip czech

January 5th, 2011
12:27 pm

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Will-the-Southeast-Division-send-four-teams-to-t?urn=nhl-303795

There is a very real possibility that Vancouver could be the only Canadian team in the playoffs…how cool would that be?

some chatter yesterday about the Thrashers showing some interest in Versteeg…not sure what would have to be given up, but that might be a possibility.

LAC

January 5th, 2011
12:45 pm

Boo Hoo Canada, you’d think they would “know” how to run a winning franchise from all the
talk those fans have, but every year it is THE SAME OLD STORY in Canada, their teams DO NOT WIN.

It would be fantastic for all SE teams to make it, can you hear those wining Canada fans then ???

ZAvalanche

January 5th, 2011
12:48 pm

@hip czech – Thanks for the link, good article. It could very well happen that 4 teams in the SE could fill out half of the playoff bracket. It has happened to the NW division a few times before when the Avs, Flames, Oilers and Canucks were all good and all made it in. Thrashy will make it – baring an injury to OP. And if the other 3 make it as well, the Thrash will make a huge accomplishment as they play the others in their division more than the rest of the league.

Brendan

January 5th, 2011
12:50 pm

Cats have been playing well, lately. I don’t have their last 20 games stats handy, but I have been noticing them banking points with some regularity now. It’s a big game, like they all are from this point on, for the Thrashers. And the Cats, too! The Cats think they can make the playoffs. It’s been quite a drought for them. They came close, fairly recently, but lost a tie-breaker to Montreal for the 8th spot.

Florida is trying to change the ‘Tude in the lockerroom. They sent Nathan Horton packing, then asked if anyone else wanted to leave. So, they’re trying to have a lockerroom filled with players who either (1) want to be there or (2) don’t have an overt objection to being there.

I’ve always said that we must compare ourselves to teams in similar situations. I usually cite the TB Lightning, the Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton, Carolina, Buffalo, but why not throw Florida into the mix? They’ve had bad ownership. They’re in a non-traditional market, fighting with three (3) other major professional sports teams for the entertainment dollars (Heat, Dolphins, Marlins). They haven’t shown much of a capacity to run their team, for the better part of a decade. So, matchups with them are another chance to show … just how far we’ve come against those clubs, who found themselves in a similar situation, either by market size, difficulty in attracting free agents, overcoming a learning curve about the sport, or ridiculous ownership.

Brendan

January 5th, 2011
12:51 pm

Trixie, I think I’m in the SPAM filters. And my post wasn’t long, at all.

Rawhide

January 5th, 2011
12:53 pm

Hey gang…check this out.

There is a Thrashers Fan Club road trip organized for the February 5 game in Carolina. They’ve procured a block of tickets in the end of the arena Atlanta attacks twice. The price is $40 per ticket if paying with cash or check, $43 if by credit card.

All orders must be in by Jan. 21 in order to secure you place in the Great Thrasherville Invasion of Carolina 2011!

For more information and to place your order, please visit The Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club website –>HERE<--

Dwayne

January 5th, 2011
1:06 pm

Rawhide, can the bus take the long way around and pick me up in Effingham County? You know, just 250 miles southeast of yall….

World Be Free

January 5th, 2011
1:13 pm

Brendan, I have been monitoring Ethan Horton in Boston. He started off pretty will with the Broones, but has recently went back to his Florida ways. Ethan will find out that the fans in Chowderhead-town are not as patient and forgiving as the ones in Miami Beach.

Smoothie

January 5th, 2011
1:22 pm

What?? There are hockey fans in Miami Beach???

I jest, I jest, but I do recall a pretty sparce crowd for the December 5th tilt with the Ice Birds there in Sawgrass last year. There were probably 8,000 (max) at that game…for a SATURDAY!! They hadn’t even been eliminated from the playoffs yet. Of course, everyone wants to single out the Thrashers these days because our owners are maroons.

Joe Friday

January 5th, 2011
1:24 pm

“Whut them gurls need is sum me mixed in”

Fixed your typo, Jethro.

I expect to see a well rested Thrashers’ club to have their legs under them again and come out flying and go go go all night. Looking for a big game from Ladd tonight. If we can avoid Vokoun standing on his head, I think we’ll see a good tilt and the good guys to come away with 2 pts.

Smoothie

January 5th, 2011
1:42 pm

They damn well better have their legs Joe, that excuse has now outlived its statute of limitations. Time to start banking mad points against teams below us in the standings. Win 19 or 20 of the next 40 and we should get in to the cool kids dance! Start peeling off the clothing from the cardboard cutout!!

Dwayne

January 5th, 2011
2:46 pm

Smoothie, our owners are not the maroons 5, they are the Octo-tards

Matt

January 5th, 2011
3:03 pm

Man, I could really use a strong game by the “Boys in Blue” tonight and not one of those 2-1, 1-0 or so jobs they seem to always have against “The Kitties”. They need to make up for that stinker they played in ATL before the streak and Ladd being named captain.

Cornbread

January 5th, 2011
3:40 pm

Four teams to the playoffs from the South East is quite possible when you look at the contenders’ upcoming schedules. People talk and worry a lot about teams below the Thrashers and their games in hand but the Thrashers have already got the toughest part of their season out of the way. They face the fewest contenders in the league at 23 and have 17 games left against weaker opponents including tonight’s game that they should get two points from. The big plus is the amount of rest and practice they will now get in.

Compare that to the Rangers who have already played 19 softies with only 11 more to go. They also must face 30 contenders, 18 of those on the road. The NYR are in trouble. The Habs will have faced the most softies of the contenders in the East at 34 and have 16 left with 7 at home. They should get in. As should Carolina who has 17 left against those out of the hunt, even though their schedule is pretty packed in the end. Two points in regulation against the Rangers tonight will go a long way. The Thrashers can deal with the Canes next week.

The difficulty with four teams from the same conference is that they all must face each other so many times – unless they give each other a point which has happened a lot this year in the SE. That’s FL’s problem. Being one of those weaker teams they must face 32 teams that are in contention, 14 of those on the road. They may be above .500 but it does not look good for them. The schedule starts getting tight against some very good teams. The only bright spot is they have already played 21 of 41 on the road. But, so have the Thrashers who have a better road record.

It’s getting very interesting to say the least. I’d love to see four Southern teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs! FL knocking out MTL with only one Canadian team in the post season is just too much to ask. But, we always got hope! Just not tonight Florida.

Dwayne

January 5th, 2011
4:00 pm

Cornbread, if 4 teams get in from the SE, then I would speculate that a lot of 3 point games must happen during those games vrs. SE opponites. So, if we really want 4 teams from the SE, we will have to sit thru some nailbitters. If we watch Fl. vrs Caps, etc. etc.

Cornbread

January 5th, 2011
4:01 pm

The rumors are flying about a trade especially now with Eager out. It’s quite possible that he must be part of the package for any team to take Bergfors. The soft Swede with the soft hands is also the softest player in the NHL. He has the league worst 2 hits and 4 blocked shots all year – all of those by accident I’m sure. Not to mention he’s a top line winger who doesn’t shoot the puck enough or go to the high traffic areas for the garbage. And people really wonder why this guy has not been playing?

He thinks of himself as a Sedin twin but he’s far from it and that’s not going to fly in Ramsay’s or Dudley’s system. I don’t see it playing out in too many team’s plans especially Torontos. It’s going to take a two or three for one deal to move him. Hands of cement and grit plus a tough prospect along with a softie for one player of value. Is that a high price? Probably worth it.

Hoof Arted

January 5th, 2011
4:03 pm

Good Lord, Cornbread. If four teams from the SE get in, Dallas, LA and PHO get in, but none of the three teams from metro NYC, Buffalo and only one Canadian team makes it in…..

Would the Canuckleheads try to cancel the playoffs? :lol:

ThrasherTim

January 5th, 2011
4:06 pm

Even though you can analyze the schedule and call certain teams “softies”, it really depends on how WE play. We have beaten the Caps 3 times already and also Detroit, Boston twice, etc. Meanwhile, we just lost to the biggest softie on paper NJ, after a brutal stretch.

By the time we play the Devils twice in March, they may be playing better than anyone in the league. Is anyone considering the Islanders softies right now at 7-1-1- or something in their last stretch? They beat Detroit too.

It’s great analysis and good fodder for a blog — right now, we survived the 1st half and more and control our own destiny. We only need to concern ourselves with W’s and banking points in our own games, especially in the division.

Avondale Fan

January 5th, 2011
4:14 pm

Rawhide – Thanks a bunch for the Flyers ticket special. See you Friday!

Rawhide

January 5th, 2011
4:22 pm

Avondale Fan – Cool…see ya then!

Fan from Carolina

January 5th, 2011
4:34 pm

Rawhide, if you posted that photo on ESPN you would have been fired. Be glad they don’t have a PC crowd at AJC. ESPN is out of control with their firings. I guess no one gets a second chance there anymore. One mistake, GONE!

Cornbread

January 5th, 2011
4:55 pm

Dwayne that is correct and it is what has occurred already. That is why it is so tight. I believe a third of the South East games have gone to OT. Additionally, the Thrashers have played the most OT games in the NHL with 14 followed by TBL with 13, WSH with 12 and CAR is 5th in the East with 10! Poor old FL has only taken it to OT 6 times.

Hoof it would be a beautiful thing wouldn’t it? It’s already starting to get played out on the TSN boards. Not very happy commentors over there.

TT NJ “MAY” be playing great hockey in March but if you watched last night’s game the likelihood of that happening is nonexistent. They are horrible. There is no hope for them. They played horribly in their win against the Thrashers as well. Two unlucky turnovers by an exhausted team was the difference. Yes the Thrashers must win and every odds maker in Vegas and Canada has them winning against those soft teams and the Rangers not faring so well in their upcoming brutal schedule. Sucks much worse to be them than the Thrashers. I don’t see this very good Thrashers team collapsing down a much lighter stretch. Not so much for the Rangers and possibly Habs. Could they play great? Sure, but it’s a much more difficult task for two teams below them in the standings that I do not believe are better than the Thrashers.

Red Light

January 5th, 2011
5:03 pm

Before you get carried away with the four teams from the Southeast Division making the playoffs, try to remember that this division has only ever had two teams qualify during any one playoff season. It has happened six times in 11 seasons, and once only was the 2nd SE team seeded higher than 6th (Florida was 5th in 1999-00).

Since 1998-99…
Northeast had four teams in 2009-10, 2003-04, 2001-02 and 1998-99
Atlantic had four teams in 2008-09, 2007-08, 2006-07
Central had four teams in 2008-09
Northwest had four teams in 2002-03
Pacific had four teams in 1999-2000

World Be Free

January 5th, 2011
5:24 pm

So why did we trade for Bergfors in the first place? Looks like we overestimated his value a bit, ay?

Tom

January 5th, 2011
5:46 pm

Bergfors thrived in Anderson’s system, but suffers in Ramsey’s.

The thing that might help the sale is Bergfors played well in New Jersey under LeMaire. He was pissed when he was traded to Atlanta and refused to sign a long term deal here. Bergfors lack of shot blocking and hitting can be sold that he is saving himself for his team, next year.

It is all pretty weak, but the reality is, when you are selling you do everything to put lipstick on the pig. :)

razorneck13

January 5th, 2011
6:18 pm

I dunno about who’ll we’ll trade (besides Bergfors & Eager’s a safe bet too) or who’lll we’ll get this year and frankly I’m surprised that I don’t really care. What I care about is locking up guys like Buff, Ladd, etc. ASAP and hope for the best this year.

After that this town might actually ATTRACT TALENT!!! Solid free agents and trade-ees willing to sign multi-year contracts…in ATLANTA?!?!?

With a solid playoff performance from this roster under Ramsay I wholeheartedly believe that’d be the case.

Tom

January 5th, 2011
7:24 pm

Check out the TSN Power Rankings this week:

http://tsn.ca/fantasy_news/rankings/nhl/

The Thrashers have moved up to 5th place from the previous weeks 6th position. LOVE IT!

The real shocker though is this: “As far as Canadian teams go, the Montreal Canadiens are the only team aside from Vancouver to rank in the Top 16.

Calgary (24th), Toronto (27th), Ottawa (28th) and Edmonton (29th) are all going through some difficult times, with rankings that reflect as much.”

Talk of 4 Southeastern Conference teams making the playoffs and the Canadian power rankings having 4 Canadian teams in the bottom 6. This can not make the case for the Diques and those hailing from Winnipeg or Hamilton.

Thrashers27

January 5th, 2011
7:48 pm

OMG, Matt McConnell is awful. I’m not usually a guy that feels the need to point these things out, but he clearly demonstrates that he’s simply a professional announcer and not a “hockey guy”. All he does is spew regurgitated minutia and generic observations. Send him the way of Natalie Taylor.

HookyBob

January 5th, 2011
8:04 pm

7:59 Buf hits the boards,….heart skips several beats.

8:00 Panthers score.

8:01 Buf is back…..knock on wood, w fingers crossed.

HookyBob

January 5th, 2011
8:12 pm

Peverly scores,..instant karma!!!