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

Cornbread

January 5th, 2011
8:25 pm

That may be the most physical I’ve seen Bergfors play all year. Bangin’ along the boards out there. Nice goal. After that interview, anyone else get the idea that he’s still not comfortable here? Maybe it’s just his personality?

Always Hoping

January 5th, 2011
8:58 pm

I think Bergie is struggling with the English language. This interview wasn’t much different than his first after the trade last year. Poor kid looks uncomfortable in froint of the camera. Earlier this year he was announced as the guest on the live wrap up show at Philips but “couldn’t make it.” As long as that wrister works I don’t mind the interview skills.

Thrashers27

January 5th, 2011
9:02 pm

Agreed, Hoping…Bergie seemed way uncomfortable.

One of the other Swedes, Oduya is not having a good game.

Peaver is on fire!!!

Thrashers27

January 5th, 2011
9:03 pm

Can’t wait ’til Elliott gets back in booth. These two chuckleheads are killing me.

iamtheratio

January 5th, 2011
9:07 pm

Thrashers27, Oduya was trying so hard to make things happen at the end of the 2nd period. The puck bounces over his stick, he falls down, puck bounces again. All I could think was “Man, that has to be driving him crazy.”

Tom

January 5th, 2011
9:09 pm

Thrasher27, I listened for about 2 minutes and then turned off the volume. Mitch is bad enough but the combination of him and Lindsay was absolutely miserable. Lets bring Kamal up and put McConnell out of his misery, again…

Tom

January 5th, 2011
9:10 pm

Pevs is busting his butt tonight and it shows. He could have had a hat trick a couple of times in the second period.

The boys have their legs back as you can see by all the penalties that Florida is taking. The only thing keeping the Panthers in the game is Clemmenson right now.

Joe Friday

January 5th, 2011
9:14 pm

“They damn well better have their legs Joe, that excuse has now outlived its statute of limitations.”

It’s not an excuse, it’s precisely what happened to them. When your legs go there’s nothing you can do and it’s even more exposed in Ramsay’s go go go system. The good news is that tonight proves that’s all it was and the second half schedule is much more evenly spaced out, we’re set pretty dang well for our run in the 2nd half. I got nervous a little worrying that Tampa fixed their goalie cluster by getting Roloson after his performance last night . . . not worried so much anymore right now!

Annonymous

January 5th, 2011
9:18 pm

Patrice Cormier is number 45…remember that number…remember it because you are looking at the future face of the franchise.

iamtheratio

January 5th, 2011
9:23 pm

Have you guys seen what the Pens are doing to the Bolts tonight? I’m not even going to ruin it for you, just head on over to NHL.com and check it out!

Thrashers27

January 5th, 2011
9:33 pm

That five minute PP was pathetic! It was like they were just out there to burn 5:00 off of the clock.

“Ohhh, we don’t need to score, just kill time.”

Come on!

Nate

January 5th, 2011
10:15 pm

I’ll gladly take the two points, but the outcome should not have been that close. As great as Pavs has been he still sucks at stopping breakaways. Wish Pevs could have notched the breakaway goal himself for the hat trick. Would have put the game away in my opinion.

Tom

January 5th, 2011
10:23 pm

50 points, nice…

Donovan McNubb

January 5th, 2011
10:31 pm

Great road win tonight. It was important not to give the Panthers any hope or momentum. We’ve got our hands full worrying about the Canes.

Pavelec really deserves an All-Star nod, but will he just miss the cut? Fleury is the automatic fans’ selection. Thomas is a shoo-in. That leaves one spot. Henrik has comparable numbers to Pavs, but he has five shutouts to Pavs’ two. Carey Price has four shutouts and more wins. Eeeeeeeeh. I really hope our guy is chosen, but I’m already bracing myself for disappointment. Rosters are announced on the 11th, I believe.

R. Stroz as Yogi Berra

January 5th, 2011
10:46 pm

An ugly win counts just as much as a pretty one.

Brendan

January 5th, 2011
10:51 pm

Four-point swing! That’s the story of the night. Good game from Peverley. Truthfully, had this not finished so favorably, we’d have to look at Peverley’s “late” second period breakaway chance as the turning point in the game. I thought there was room … had Peverley gone 5-hole. Good save by Clemmeson.

Joe Friday, re: Tampa Bay goaltending, I thought Red Light had nailed it when he projected Nabakov as the next Bolts netminder. But, they went with Roloson in a trade with the Isles. Was this his 1st game as a Bolt? Maybe it was “nerves?” Just kidding. Roloson is quite a veteran of this league.

I got worried when I saw big Buff go down, sliding into the boards so awkwardly. I hope there aren’t any lingering effects of that. I was screaming for Kane to get the empty-netter, but it just slide wide of the goal. I haven’t checked lately, but I remember that a week or so ago, Atlanta had 4-6 players on pace for 20 goals. It’d be great if that happens!

The NY Rangers won tonight, in the overtime, over Carolina. So, the ‘Canes get the pity point, but that’s better than the win, I suppose. I guess I just refuse to take the Rangers seriously, this year. I, frankly, don’t know how they’ve fared so well! They’ve got a nice young player, I think his name is Stepan? He had a “hat trick” very early in the season. I guess I just saw the Blueshirts with Todd White and Erik Christensen, and figured they were headed to the lottery draft. But Lundqvist has played well. Gaborik is a major star. Frolov must be doing something. Sather and Tortorella keep marching on. The bottom line, tonight, is the Rangers won again.

Donovan McNubb

January 5th, 2011
10:58 pm

Now that I think about it, the All-Star game’s probably not going to be three East goalies and three West goalies, will it? With the new format, the NHL will probably just pick the best goalies from both conferences.

Hope Toby makes it, too. Buff, duh, is in without a doubt.

Donovan McNubb

January 5th, 2011
11:02 pm

Brendan — Roloson had a shutout in his first game. I immediately thought, “Oh no, now Tampa has a goalie. They’re gonna be Cup contenders.”

Uh. So much for that.

AtlFlamesFan

January 5th, 2011
11:07 pm

World Juniors: Russia stuns Canada in an incredible comback. Canada takes a 3-0 lead into the 3rd period, and Russia storms back wiht 5 unanswered goals.

AtlFlamesFan

January 5th, 2011
11:10 pm

Oh yeah. That resulted in Russia taking the gold. Canada takes the silver. And the US beats Sweden 4-2 to take the bronze.

swede

January 6th, 2011
7:31 am

Haha look at tsn article. Not a single person has commented russias gold medal. When they beat usa it was like 41 pages of comments. They are totally stunned just like I am.

Stuck in NJ

January 6th, 2011
7:51 am

I’d sure like to know where you got that picture Rawhide. Any chance there was a whole series of them? I wouldn’t mind seeing one for every Panthers or Preds blog.

Cliff Fletcher

January 6th, 2011
7:55 am

Team Canada Juniors go from Masters of the Universe to goats in one hour. Canadian fans sunffering from the same disease as European soccer fans and American fans in general by evolving their lives on whether their team wins or loses.

I don’t feel sorry for Canada after the way the shots their mouthes off after beating the U.S. Serves them right.

DWTOO

January 6th, 2011
8:02 am

Any reports of mass suicide north of the border? After that momunmental collapse last night think there’s a lot less bluster coming south.

Cliff Fletcher

January 6th, 2011
8:09 am

From the Toronto Globe and Mail-

“Thanks Team Canada. That showing in Buffalo will make for some pretty awkward breakfast conversations this morning. How many kids were sent off to bed after the second period with the game well in hand; a gold medal assured, and woke up this morning only to learn that their hockey dog died?

At least one that I know of, I can tell you that.

“But Daddy, you said Canada was going to win for sure. It’s your fault Daddy.”

What do you do in that situation? Blame the goalie, I guess.”

hip czech

January 6th, 2011
8:12 am

I thought I saw Pavelec turn around and scoop the puck out of the net after McCabe’s shot in the 3rd…thought it was funny Sportsouth didn’t show a replay and was absolutely stunned it wasn’t reviewed.

Apparently it was really in the net…there is an uproar on Panthers sites about why it wasn’t asked to be reviewed by the refs or buzzed from Toronto. Also, looks like the NHL is pulling all videos of the clip of the web.

Oh well, we’ll take it… :-)

Tom

January 6th, 2011
8:49 am

On the Florida no goal, Bogosian made a great play as he ran into the referee and kept him from looking into the net. :) The ref looks like he was skating in to catch a peek and then Bogos helmet hit his chest.

We will take it but I am not surprised the Florida fans are pissed. I know I would be.

Here is a link to the Panther’s article with the video at the end of the page.

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/flapanthers/2011/01/nhl-official-we-should-have-reviewed-bryan-mccabes-goal-with-video-from-fsnnhl.html

World Be Free

January 6th, 2011
8:53 am

Thrashers are winning close games where in the past, we usually came up short. Note that the Panthers had 4 players in the Junior Championships that all made contributions.

hip czech

January 6th, 2011
9:00 am

Tom, that’s the hardest hit Bogo has had all year…

Fan from Carolina

January 6th, 2011
9:07 am

Nice solid road win! Makes up for the NJ loss that had many worried. Don’t get too excited about the Lightning blowout. They were FLAT out of the gate after an emotional 1-0 shutout the night before, whereas the Pens were coming off a four day rest and mad about losing to the Caps in the Classic. Sounds a little familiar to the situation Atlanta faced recently in Boston and Pittsburgh as well. When Tampa loses, they lose BIG! 8-1 to the B’s, 6-0 to FL, now another 8-1 beatdown. No wonder the +/- is so poor for them and their goalies GAA. 10% of their games (losses and the 8-7 Flyers win) are brutal for numbers which means the stats are out of whack for that entire team. the Thrashers have a real ggod shot of catching up now with the Bolts on another road ‘back to back’ this weekend. I’m conceding the the division to the Caps despite that strange losing streak.

waffleboy

January 6th, 2011
9:13 am

hip czech – that was wrong.

World Be Free

January 6th, 2011
9:15 am

Carolina-not conceding division to Washington yet because I expected that by January 1, they would have a comfortable lead in the division. something is missing there and the Caps have not found it yet. Their offense will be OK, but the Caps still have questions in goal AND they lack the stud defenseman, the bedrock guy. The Caps should have made a play for Pronger when he was available 2 years ago.

Zoomo

January 6th, 2011
9:16 am

I looked at the video of the McCabe goal again, I’d be hard pressed to see how central command in Toronto would overturn the call on the ice.

To overstate the obvious, he retruned to being Peverywhere last night. Quite a game for 47.

Modin is an enigma. Slow, but drives to the net as well as anyone. Makes a great back check annd then stupidly hooks his guy. With his injuries, I still think Freddy is not quite in game shape yet>If he rounds into form, he may have something left in his tank for the 2nd half. I just have a feeling that he’s gonna pot 8 -10 down the stretch.

Tom

January 6th, 2011
9:21 am

HipCheck – Wrong, but funny. :)

Alan R.

January 6th, 2011
9:34 am

I’d say the McCabe goal was good.

I’d also say the Higgins goal was bad. He was offsides by a mile.

hip czech

January 6th, 2011
10:02 am

I know…I shouldn’t be down on Bogosian but I couldn’t resist. He just irritates me sometimes. I just want to see him absolutely demolish someone in the corner sometime. He just seems tentative to throw his weight around.

Thrashers27

January 6th, 2011
10:05 am

Call me blind, but I couldn’t see the puck in the net on the McCabe “goal”. I certainly didn’t see any reason for Panthers fans to be raising a stink about.

Mrs. DWTOO

January 6th, 2011
10:05 am

I watched the video of McCabe’s attempt for a goal several times and paused it at several instances, and did not see the puck completely cross the line – in fact, it looked like the puck was outside the post the majority of the time and might have been pused to rest on the goal line but it did not completely cross that line…

Mrs. DWTOO

January 6th, 2011
10:06 am

“pused” should be “pushed”

Red Light

January 6th, 2011
10:09 am

World Be Free:

Gotta disagree my friend!

The Caps problems are totally unrelated to goaltending. In the regular season last year, I believe they scored 3 goals or more 66 times, and had a 50-6-10 record, which could be considered cause for concern. But, this year, despite Varlamov being available for only 14 games so far, the Caps are 21-0-3 when scoring 3 goals or more, but are only 2-12-3 when scoring 2 or less. That means, they almost have equaled the number of games they were held to 2 goals or less in 41 games than they had in all 82 last year.

You might be able to make a case that they could have problems in playoff games, but the numbers above for the two 22-year-olds in net have improved drastically this season.

During the 8-game skid, the magnificent Caps offense scored only 11 goals and more than 2 just once. In their last nine games, the Caps have allowed only 15 goals. In the playoffs last season, the Caps scored 5 goals in their four losses. In 2008-09, Varlamov had played only six regular season games, and yet still had a .918 save percentage and a 2.53 GAA in 13 playoff games.

Ovehckin’s and Green’s production numbers are way off, and the secondary scoring has been brutal this year and their shooting percentage numbers are awful (Ovechkin-7.4%, Laich-7.7%, Knuble-9.4%) in comparison to last season.

BTW, Ovi had 73 even-strength points in 72 games last year, this year he has 28 in 341 games.

Rawhide

January 6th, 2011
10:10 am

Good question regarding McCabe’s “no goal”….let’s discuss that here.

Red Light

January 6th, 2011
10:10 am

Ooops. Ovi has 28 points in 41 games (not 341).

Red Light

January 6th, 2011
10:10 am

Second day in a row Bill that you got me!

Rawhide

January 6th, 2011
10:14 am

Red Light – heheheheheheh :cool:

R. Stroz

January 8th, 2011
9:33 am

Rawhide

January 9th, 2011
7:54 pm

R. Stroz – Nope.