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 cruel.

However, the overtime consolation “loser point” does indeed get added to the Thrashers’ ledger in the standings. In doing so, they continue to keep themselves two points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes, who currently remain on the outside looking in to those holding playoff spots at this time.

Anthoney Stewrt knocks Tampa Bay's Nate Thompson off the puck during Thursday night's game. Unfortunately, the Thrashers failed to knock off the Lightning for the tenth straight time, losing 3-2 in a shootout (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Anthoney Stewrt knocks Tampa Bay's Nate Thompson off the puck during Thursday night's game. Unfortunately, the Thrashers failed to knock off the Lightning for the tenth straight time, losing 3-2 in a shootout (AP Photo/David Goldman)

A quick look at the standings show Atlanta with 54 points, which is good enough to remain in the eighth and final spot for postseason contention. Montreal goes into tonight’s game in Ottawa two points ahead of the Thrashers, but will have played one fewer game after they deal with the Senators. One point ahead of the Habs you’ll find the Rangers, who were beaten by the Canes 4-1 Thursday night.

When New York plays here in Atlanta Saturday night, it’ll be game number 50 on the season for both teams. While the two of them are going at it, Carolina will be up in Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins.

All this simply underscores just how tight things are at this time between spots number 6 and 9 in the east standings. Just five points separate the four teams currently holding those places, and things could even get tighter. And that’s pretty much how things are going to be for the remainder of the season I think.

The way I see it, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington are all but locks for this spring’s Great Hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Their positioning may jostle a bit…but those four are in essence “in”. Add to that either Boston or Montreal as the Northeast Division champs…Boston more than likely, IMHO… and five of the eight Eastern Conference playoff spots can be classified as “occupied”. Do the math, and you see that leaves three still available.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, teams like New Jersey and the Islanders are out of it and have been for some time. It could be argued that Ottawa and Toronto are out as well. Not mathematically eliminated, mind you, but for all intents and purposes…yeah.

Then you have Florida and Buffalo with 46 and 47 points respectively. I don’t think one can totally count either of them out of the playoff picture just yet, especially with the Sabres going 7-2-1 in their last ten and having played three games fewer than the Thrashers. But unless they can find a way to shove there way back into within a couple of points soon, they can at least be considered on the postseason hopeful Endangered Species List.

What that leaves us with are the aforementioned Thrashers, Hurricanes, Rangers and Canadiens who I really believe will be the ones playing playoff musical chairs for those last remaining spots. Four teams, three spots…one will be left out. And that is why tomorrow’s matchup with the Blue Shirts has taken just that much more importance.

As far as head-to-head matchup with the other three teams in that group is concerned… this will be the second meeting with the Rangers for the Thrashers. Last October 27, Atlanta was 6-4 winners. They’ll meet again in Atlanta on February 11 and then once more in New York on April 7.

The Thrashers and Habs have locked horns twice already with the good guys coming out on top both times. There was the 3-0 win last November in Atlanta and then the 4-3 overtime victory on the second of this month up in Montreal. The Canadiens are in town once more on March 1 and then they’ll do battle in the Belle Centre on the 29th of that month.

Just in case the Canadiens overtake Boston on the Northeast and the Bruins find themselves playing postseason musical chairs for spots lower down in the standings, the Thrashers have just one more game with them. That will take place in Beantown on April 2. Atlanta has taken both games played here while losing in Boston just before Christmas.

We’ve gone up against divisional foes Carolina twice, losing in a shootout and overtime. Each will host two more games…February 5 and March 9 will be in Raleigh while the games on February 13 and April 8 will be in the friendly confines of Philips Arena.

The game in April will be the second to last game on the schedule for Atlanta and could prove to be quite a meaningful event. The game on the 13th of February is also the one that you can get seats in sections 203 or 204 and a free Thrashers replica jersey for just $26. Just call Kirin at 404-878-3781 or e-mail her at Karin.Beckman@atlantaspirit.com to procure yours.

By: Bill Tiller – AJC.com Thrashers Fan Blog

94 comments Add your comment

Jason

January 21st, 2011
2:49 pm

A very depressed First….

B. Thenet

January 21st, 2011
2:51 pm

I feel bad for ya, you put together this well written blog article…and all everyone is going to want to talk about is the lawsuit bombshell.

Jason

January 21st, 2011
2:51 pm

I think we can sneak into the playoffs as a 7th or 8th seed. I don’t think it’s any coincidence either that the power of the mustache helped the team to that amazing November. Might be time to bring that back.

Red Light

January 21st, 2011
2:55 pm

Excerpt from what I posted on my site Dec. 8, 2010

NHL Relocation Rumblings Skirt the Real Issues
“No legacy is so rich as honesty.” William Shakespeare

In Atlanta, Thrashers fans were captivated with their new team and new arena for much of the franchise’s first seven seasons. In the 2006-07 season, the Thrashers averaged 16,240 tickets distributed per home game, which was better than established franchises like the Bruins, Blues, Capitals and Blackhawks. Two seasons after their only playoff appearance, the Thrashers average plummeted and it continued to dip even through the team’s first 15 home dates this season. That does not mean Atlanta won’t support its hockey club, it means that its fans want more than just a six-game winning streak.

Thrashers fans want, and deserve, a better ROI than has been present during the past three seasons. They want certainty that their emotional, financial and temporal investments are returned in kind. Before letting themselves drink from the new Thrashers goblet, they want to know that the newly-acquired Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien (and other pending free agents) will re-sign with their team for more than one year. They don’t want to get near another trading deadline to see which of their players will be unloaded.
They also want to know that if the current ownership group is looking to sell the team, and not just looking for investment partners, to please let them know in advance before they plop down several thousands for tickets.

Simply, Thrashers fans want an honest appraisal of what’s happening with their team off the ice, as much as they want to cheer for it on the ice. And when you think about it, it’s not so different from making any investment — where informed decisions are based upon due diligence. In any uncertain marketplace, lack of information tempers zealous investment. Thrashers fans aren’t looking for playoff guarantees or promises of a Stanley Cup, they simply want to know if they can rely upon a return on their investment from the current ownership group, and if in fact, their team will be in Atlanta long term. If no reliable information is forthcoming, and soon, head coach Craig Ramsay’s very solid hockey team will continue to make its playoff push in front of less than 12,000 fans per night. And that, would be a shame.

Matt

January 21st, 2011
2:59 pm

I am just beside myself with anger at this crappy, dysfunctional ownership group. Isn’t there SOMEONE with the money and passion to make this team what it could be?

Red Light

January 21st, 2011
3:01 pm

But, back to your post Rawhide…The Thrashers have had more success against the Rangers than any other team in the Eastern Conference except for Florida and Buffalo.

Florida 36-19-5-6
Buffalo 23-14-1-4
NYR 22-16-1-2

Mr. Heat Miser

January 21st, 2011
3:03 pm

Fire Waddell?

Red Light

January 21st, 2011
3:03 pm

And, oh by the way, last night’s extra session loss to Tampa Bay was the Thrashers 11th all-time to the Lightning in the OT or SO. Now, that’s frustrating.

JB

January 21st, 2011
3:07 pm

in light of the bomb dropped upon us today, I am THIIIIIISSS close to giving up all together and switching team alegiances. so close to my breaking point, i could reach out and touch it. (perhaps blind) optimism from the past 5 years? GONE

Red Light

January 21st, 2011
3:09 pm

The Thrashers are also 11-4-2 in their last 17 against the Rangers not including the 2007 playoffs.

Marvin the Martian

January 21st, 2011
3:11 pm

Joe Friday

January 21st, 2011
3:11 pm

Get ready for all Sage all the time. He has just been proven right. I know we all hate it, but it’s true . . .

With Bill Daly’s slip of the tongue last month, the stage is set. We can cry and deny and dream about Philips naming agreements all we want, but the writing is on the wall here, fellas . . .

thrashyou.......depressed

January 21st, 2011
3:17 pm

We need Mr. Blank! Put some ice down in the GA Dome.

Mr. Heat Miser

January 21st, 2011
3:18 pm

Sage=Schultz

LAC

January 21st, 2011
3:18 pm

My offer to whip levenson’s butt still STANDS, but as we all know, LIARS have No Guts and No Glory… So come on bruce you f’ing LIAR, try for one time in your WORTHLESS life “try” to be a Man… We ALL know you are not and cannot be one, so show some GUTS, take your A$$ Kicking like the little wimp you are !

Sage of Bluesland

January 21st, 2011
3:20 pm

“…so close to my breaking point, i could reach out and touch it. (perhaps blind) optimism from the past 5 years? GONE”

This ownership group–and leadership group (especially the embarrassingly incompetent Don Waddell)–deserves no financial support whatsoever. Finally, we’re getting what we’ve been OWED all along: the truth.

(Some of you SHOULD be ashamed for your mistaken bluster aimed at yours truly…but I know how sheep are; their minds are very weak and they are very gullible…as they want to bewieve so badly…It’s too bad, really…)

GaVaHokie

January 21st, 2011
3:25 pm

AJC must need more page hits… none of this is new information.

Just continue to understand that the team can’t (and has never been) able to move due to the agreement with the League. ASG has known that since they bought the team. The only thing the article fails to mention is if the potential sale of the team was to other local interests.

I see it as good news… if they win this lawsuit, they’ll get back all their losses.

R. Stroz

January 21st, 2011
3:29 pm

Tomorrow night, we should all show up and from the drop of the puck…just keep chanting

WE WANT ARTHUR BLANK…WE WANT ARTHUR BLANK…

Shame on Waddell and the Spirit Clowns.

Red Light

January 21st, 2011
3:29 pm

And, somewhere, David McDavid is laughing his @$$ off because the Magnificent Seven’s only recourse to save their own bacon comes through litigation, not trying to make the appropriate changes to cure what ails this team — which has always been the lack of competent managerial skill in the matters of personnel and player development.

R. Stroz

January 21st, 2011
3:30 pm

GaVaHokie – I’ve been to countless Towne Hall Meetings where Waddell said “there is no interest in selling the team, it wouldn’t make sense to sell the team”….SO YES THEY LIED.

ThrashDawg

January 21st, 2011
3:31 pm

You know it is kind of crazy because in a way I would like to see us fans show up and sell the place out every night and show a potential buyer that the NHL can and will work in Atlanta, if we had the right ownership. The reality is that if we don’t show up that just gives the bumbs the opportunity to blame the lack of fan support as the reason to sell the team to owners that would move the team. I really think supporting the team is our only option so these bumbs can get their money back by selling the team to a legit owner that will keep the Thrashers in Atlanta. What a bunch of pond scum and please somebody contact Arthur Blank. We need a savior ASAP!

Sage of Bluesland

January 21st, 2011
3:31 pm

“…I see it as good news… if they win this lawsuit, they’ll get back all their losses.”

For Heaven’s sake, that is the best bit of comedy since the earlier mention of lil’ Toby as having hall of fame potential.

Two sheeps; one mind.

My goodness….Some of you really do scare me…

Smoothie

January 21st, 2011
3:34 pm

The amount of their losses basically equates to the salary they’ve paid to their NHL franchise’s players over the last 4 to 5 years so at least there is solace in knowing they have not profited from this shameful endeavor and the players have been the direct beneficiary of our loyal allegiance and kindness in the application of our entertainment dollars.

DWTOO

January 21st, 2011
3:41 pm

If it wasn’t for bad news, we’d have no news at all. Guess we could all see this coming from this bunch of liars. Perhaps it will speed the process of finding decent ownership. Our only saving grace is that the NHL doesn’t like to move franchises or Florida, TB, Nashville, Phoenix, and even P-Burg would have been moved by now. Daly was playing to his audience and he’s just a blustering jackwagon.

R/L – think you expressed our feelings very well.

Stroz – How about “ASG, ASG, ASG YOU REALLY SUCK”.

DWTOO

January 21st, 2011
3:45 pm

SOB – if you were playing football you’d get 15 yards for piling on. We really don’t need your crud. Your litany is even more tiresome today. Please crawl back in your hole.

Joe Friday

January 21st, 2011
3:54 pm

Smoothie, your economics are a little off there . . . let me tell you that yes, every one of our ticket purchases has in fact “subsidized their incompetence . . .”. The players were getting paid whether you bought a ticket or not. The only difference is if the loss is bigger if you didn’t buy a ticket, or if the loss is less if you did buy a ticket.

Some of the news today is not news in a certain sense, in that Hokie is correct, but some of it is new news Hokie. If you’re paying attention, you’ve known all along that despite Waddell’s nose lengthening Town Hall talks, they’ve wanted to sell the team. I didn’t realize it had been for 6 years, so that’s new news to me. But what’s most worrisome to me is to take this news that they’ve tried for 6 years. Then, take that tidbit and couple it with Bill Daly’s remarks last month about looking at other options with the Thrashers and the writing is on a 50 foot high wall here, fellas.

They are going to sell the team to someone who will move them. And don’t cry about can’t do it with Philips naming agreements, their plan now is to recoup that in this lawsuit against King and Spalding.

Connect the dots, this sucks. I wonder if the deal is already done, why else tip your hand and file the lawsuit now completely alienating what was left of your fan base?

So, apologies to Sage, I’ll go first, you were in fact a Sage and were right all along, we have been subsidizing the incompetence.

There’s plenty of blame to go around, but Waddell’s inability to build the fan base in the early years has beaten down the season ticket base to where we are today. If he’d been able to build something early, we’d have kept the fan base up and someone would have stepped in and bought it by now to keep it in place. Now we’re down to needing a white knight to come riding in to save the day.

I bet the ones that stood behind Waddell in the early years preaching patience and that he was doing it the right way feel pretty silly right now.

Red Light

January 21st, 2011
3:55 pm

I wonder if Craig Ramsay is just a little bit pissed off too, since I am sure he came to Atlanta hoping to build something on the ice and is hamstrung from doing that by what has happened off the ice?

Isn’t it kind of like finding out that your supposed 18-year-old virgin girlfriend has been doing the nasty since she was 14?

Matt from MN

January 21st, 2011
3:57 pm

@Red Light-that is just a disturbing analogy.

Red Light

January 21st, 2011
3:59 pm

Thanks Matt. It was supposed to be.

Sage of Bluesland

January 21st, 2011
3:59 pm

Thank you, Joe Friday; you are likely the ONLY one with any guts or respect today…

(Now where did that wittle spweadsheet go? I know that one won’t show up for awhile…Oh well, no loss there…)

Sage of Bluesland

January 21st, 2011
4:04 pm

“…let me tell you that yes, every one of our ticket purchases has in fact “subsidized their incompetence . . .”. The players were getting paid whether you bought a ticket or not. The only difference is if the loss is bigger if you didn’t buy a ticket, or if the loss is less if you did buy a ticket….”

Indeed. This is why I take anything Smoothie blathers about with a very small grain of salt. He simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

(Based on his ramblings and inferiority-complex, I’m thinking ‘public’ education…)

ThrashDawg

January 21st, 2011
4:05 pm

What exactly are we saying Sage was right about? I think we all knew and agreed the ASG was a bunch of clowns, he just continually runs it in the ground! As for subsidizing the incompetence, what would you suggest we do if we like the idea of the NHL in the ATL? If nobody shows up then it just supports what the hosers in Canada already say about the Southern hockey fan or lack there of! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t!

GaVaHokie

January 21st, 2011
4:08 pm

I was being facetious… none of this concerns me. I can’t bother myself with such silliness.

I’ll follow the Thrashers until they sadly leave town.

R. Stroz

January 21st, 2011
4:17 pm

DWTOO – Good Idea. I’ve already subsized the incompetence for tomorrow night, so I might as well give the ASG hell all night long. Sunk costs are sunk, but my vocal cords are FINE.

ASG…ASG…ASG…YOU SUCK.

SomaAtl95

January 21st, 2011
4:17 pm

The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner. Congrats Sage. You are correct. Now, do us all a favor and STFU. You made your point.

Now either find a new topic to talk about, join in the conversation or find a different blog to hijack.

We may be sheep but I’d rather be a sheep than a miserable blog griever any day.

R. Stroz

January 21st, 2011
4:18 pm

Red Light – To improve your anology, add, with her own brother.

SomaAtl95

January 21st, 2011
4:19 pm

Man this sucks – The ASG weren’t being truthful? /sarcasm

SomaAtl95

January 21st, 2011
4:20 pm

I think SOB will go through a whole bottle of lotion congratulating himself tonight.

Riceowls

January 21st, 2011
4:21 pm

If you won’t “subsidize the incompetence” don’t complain when they leave for greener pastures. Its still NHL hockey and beats having none.

SomaAtl95

January 21st, 2011
4:22 pm

I will support the team as long as they are here. I don’t care about ownership, management or coaching. Bad NHL hockey is still better than good college football any day.

R. Stroz

January 21st, 2011
4:22 pm

Sage – Would you like a pass for the next Towne Hall Meeting? I’ll provide one for FREE.

B. Thenet

January 21st, 2011
4:22 pm

Sage, based on your one track mind and constant repetition…I am thinking “home schooled”

SomaAtl95

January 21st, 2011
4:23 pm

Oh, and Sage, you’re still a douchebag no matter if you are right or not.

Iron League 13

January 21st, 2011
4:25 pm

Rawhide, it’s getting hairy and looks likte it’s getting harier. Which brings me to…

B. Thenet, that was a Mama Cleo moment of clairvoyance on your part. Kudos on that. :) It’s a shame, but inevitable. We’re upset about the possibilities of more mediocrity under this ownership or worse (I don’t want to think about).

Red Light, spot on.

Red Light

January 21st, 2011
4:31 pm

Sage of Bluesland

Yup, you had it right about incompetent ownership and management and shouted to the rooftops, time and time and time again for all of us to read. But while you’d like to lay claim as the only Sage voice, alas, you were not alone. Others knew from Day One that this team was in the wrong hands, and I am not just speaking of the spinning and grinning leader either.

Residents of this city, former hockey men who know the game were used to carry the Atlanta torch only to be cast aside when ticket sales met a decent level in the early years (Years 1 and 2 too be specific). They knew the leadership structure here was at best, flawed. But, your blog leader, Mr. Bill Tiller, knew it also. There are countless others but Sage, you were the most boisterous and consistent — no matter how annoyingly repetitive it became, was or is!

At least you weren’t wishy-washy and you stuck to your guns (in your case the Henry Repeating Rifle)!

Take a look at the Jan. 6, 2010 blog (link below), and you’ll see that you were not the only Sagacious One. Others like LAC, Joe Friday, Zoomo, R. Stroz and several others shared similar sentiments along the way.

But, in this dark hour for some of the sheep, at the very least I wish you a very happy day and salute you for never backing off your trite tirades.

http://blogs.ajc.com/iceman-thrashers-blog/2010/01/06/no-i-dont-think-anderson-should-be-fired-however

Sage of Bluesland

January 21st, 2011
4:32 pm

Thanks for the offer, Stroz….We’ll see…You have offered numerous times before–and it is very generous.

In a similar vein of Ensign Pulver (from “Mister Roberts”), I would probably be afraid of what I might do to the Captain/Don Waddell (as I go through the motion of choking a person).

Such nasty language from such weak minds; tsk-tsk….

In the end, it’s nothing but a shame to have given anything to those who have cared not a whit. I’m thankful I stopped subsidizing such utter and sheer incompetence many years ago…

SomaAtl95

January 21st, 2011
4:37 pm

Then stop subsidizing negativity. We’ve all been upset with the franchise but still support the team. Sometimes I would swear you are one of the “Owners” just trying to alienate as many fans as possible so the team can move to “Moose Dropping Point, Canada”.

That would be the most ironic thing of all – The great and “mighty” SOB – one of the owners of the team. It’s no coincidence that the seven owners left are SOB’s too!

LET THE NEW CONSPIRACY BEGIN!

jimbo

January 21st, 2011
4:39 pm

Unitl this team comes get of its timid, try not to lose, focus at home, it will not make the playoffs or draw fans. We are a pathetic team at home.

R. Stroz

January 21st, 2011
4:40 pm

Iron League 13

January 21st, 2011
4:46 pm

Sage, no apologies. Enstrom will be a legend within ten years if he’s remained mostly healthy and playing at this level or close enough…A LEGEND. I’ll say it as many times as you call people “sheep” (i.e., the point of annoyance) so that when they’re constantly talking about Enstrom’s badassery on every hockey media outlet whenever they mention his name or just because they can’t stop talking about his TOI radness, I can come back and do a figurative happy dance and say “TOLD YOU SO, TOLD YOU SO”. Oh and I know that last bit was a run on sentence or something else incorrect, save it.

Two things:

1.) There’s more to life than dropping turds in punch bowls.
2.) When the Hell did I say anything nice about ASG?

So, not two things at all really, just an opinion and a question, but whatever. You suck.