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 again, “…and there’s the horn ending the overtime period. We’ll go to the shootout tied 2-2”

Then again, “…and there’s the horn ending the overtime period. We’ll go to the shootout once more tied 2-2”.

Once more last night, “…and there’s that BLASTED horn again ending the game before SOMEBODY can win it the old fashioned way…with an actual, honest to goodness goal. Instead, we’ll now go to YET ANOTHER stinkin’ shootout”!

…sigh…

Nic Bergfors reacts after failing to convert on his shootout try Saturday night. The Rangers left Atlanta with the 3-2 SO win after trailing 2-1 in the third...just as the Tampa Lightning had two days before (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Nic Bergfors reacts after failing to convert on his shootout try Saturday night. The Rangers left Atlanta with the 3-2 SO win after trailing 2-1 in the third...just as the Tampa Lightning had two days before (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Five times this month the Thrashers and their opponents have required extra time to determine a winner and seven of the last thirteen games have done so as well. They are 3-4 in those games dating back to the overtime loss to the Lightning one day after Christmas.

This morning, the Thrashers woke up in Tampa, Florida for a game later this afternoon with the Lightning. There’s no word yet if the song that greeted them as the alarm clocks went off was Sonny and Cher’s “I’ve Got You Babe”… but the way things have been going, I wouldn’t really be surprised.

What should also come as little surprise is that the previous three times these teams have met, it took longer than 60 playing minutes to find a winner. Twice it’s needed a shootout, once just took a little bit of overtime. In each case, however, the Groundhog Day effect took over and the Atlanta squad watched the Bolts skate away with the win.

Multiplying the Groundhog Day torment of repeating the same day…or game…over and over again, the Thrashers have lived the nightmare of watching the Lightning come out on top for ten straight times. As you all know by now, they haven’t beaten their division foes since opening night 2009, and today marks the last time they’ll get a chance to do so before next fall.

That’s assuming we don’t draw them in the playoffs, which is not only a distinct possibility…but the way things have gone lately, just might be fitting in the eyes of irony.

Now if I may take a stab at trying to find some sort of good in this Groundhog Day scenario that has befallen Thrasherville, it might just turn out that this stretch of games turns out to be a bit of a blessing for us.

No, really…stick with me on this.

If I may return to Murray’s character in the movie…remember, he was doomed to repeat the same day over and over again until he finally “got it” as far as just who he was and what the people around him really meant to him. He was forced into time’s revolving door until he was able to work things out that needed to be.

The Thrashers are struggling somewhat as they work their collective ways through a rough part of the schedule in which multiple key players are healing. They’ve been forced to plug in just replacements as Nigel Dawes, Freddy Meyer, Tim Stapleton and Spencer Machacek until players like Jim Slater and Evander Kane can mend properly…and Zach Bogosian can get figured out whatever it he needs to get figured out.

But through it, they’ve managed to procure 4 points in the three games that followed a four-game losing streak in which the Thrashers were outscored 24-9. That’s nothing to get all goose-pimply about, mind you, but it’s better than hanging another goose egg in the regulation loss column.

OK, maybe some of you might think that’s going a long way towards trying to find the silver lining in the dark cloud that hovers over Thrasherville after a second straight shootout loss. But if Atlanta does find there way into the postseason dance by just a point or two…or the difference between two of the playoff positions is won by the same slim margin…then we can look at this string of games in a better light.

Every team struggles somewhat and has to work through some issues during the course of the season. If you can get through those tough times while collection at least some points at the same time…well then, that helps.

But one thing is for sure. The Thrashers have to find a way, and soon, to hold these third period leads and skate away with the second point. This is especially true when facing division opponents and conference teams battling with them for playoff positioning. Otherwise, when spring finally makes its way here, another annual nightmare may repeat itself in Thrasherville…no playoffs.

And we don’t need any smelly groundhog to scurry back into his hole after seeing his shadow to tell us that.

By: Bill Tiller – AJC.com Thrashers Fan Blog

169 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

January 23rd, 2011
2:07 pm

Nuts for Boults

January 23rd, 2011
2:08 pm

Nuts for Boults

January 23rd, 2011
2:08 pm

Sara

January 23rd, 2011
2:10 pm

You actually ranallo’d me. I’m going to remember this. :p

Darren

January 23rd, 2011
2:19 pm

Does this analogy make Sage Ned Ryerson?

Rawhide

January 23rd, 2011
2:21 pm

Sara – MWAAAaa-hahahahahaha!! :lol:

SomaAtl95

January 23rd, 2011
2:28 pm

Yes, it really feels like we are going through the same nightmare, not only on the ice but with the negative press about ownership, attendance, moving, the non stop barrage of trolls, blah blah blah yakety smackity… Things that have been going right – Better Coaching and players who are not afraid to block shots, they were able to build excitement earlier on in the season and have become shaky as time has progressed (and casual fans start to take notice)

When the Thrashers are hot they are blazing, when they are cold its almost as if their logo has changed to “Chilly Willy”. There have been too many times we as fans have been expecting superman to show up only to be served a very feeble Clark Kent.

It would be nice to go to the playoffs this spring, the team needs to take off their Kryptonite necklaces though. The natives are starting to get restless.

GO THRASHERS! In the immortal words of Rob Schnider – “You Can Dooo Eeeet”

BluelandBELIEVER

January 23rd, 2011
2:28 pm

I cant believe how we fell apart last night. I was loving that game, and when we killed off the 5-on-3, the place went nuts!! I cant stand the dump and change system we have. There were multiple occasions last night when someone dumps the puck in and goes for a change when a turn over in our favor happened, resulting in a man being left alone in the O-zone with NO HELP.

Gwinnett Fred

January 23rd, 2011
2:30 pm

OK, I just did my part to help the team win today.

Given my inability to pick a winner (for money), I just went to my BoDog account and took the Lightning at -165.

Smoothie

January 23rd, 2011
2:34 pm

Interesting way of looking at it Bill, we are definitely stuck in a stitch of time this week. Don’t think a back to backer against our nemesis with less than 20 hours to rest is going to help. Also, 33 goals — not counting our S/O tallies — in 18 games is a very UNGOOD trend. We’ve scored more than 3 goals just once since 12/20/10 when we hung 6 on the Loafs (the MTL overtime win). This team keeps screwing over Ondrej Pavelec’s brilliant goaltending with their inability to score. Hell, last nite they couldn’t even hit the opposition’s net when tied at 2…that is unacceptable. We need a trade to add a scorer and we need it now. We’ve actually been better defensively without Bogosian. Gee, who didn’t see that coming? Perhaps now is the time to dangle him as trade bait. Problem is Byfuglien has been a bigger liability on D than anyone. He’s now a difference-maker in a different sense, but I reckon he is secretly playing hurt. Give the guy a LT deal during the ASG break and watch him go bonkers in February on the scoresheet! Oh wait, we’re “run” by the dumba$$ Atlanta dis-Spirited Group. Nevermind!

Brendan

January 23rd, 2011
2:38 pm

I say it every so often, but I am so glad that we have a blog like Rawhide’s. Not only is it entertaining and informative, but by the way in which it is run … it does tend to attract some of the better posters. This blog isn’t, like several others, some race-baiting screamfest, where people expose much more about themselves than they, perhaps, ever wanted.

The name-calling on this blog is minimal. The posts have contained some good discussions, rather than just diatribes. There’s only so many times any of us can say the ownership is undesireable. And that Don Waddell played his part in it, too. And that the lease is unbreakeable, for all realistic purposes, so the team isn’t going anywhere prior to 2019.

I can’t even believe how litigation-happy our ownership is. When I first saw this story, the first thing I thought was, “And now … they’re trying to recoup their legal fees?? These guys just don’t get it.” But in the process, they’re going to be spending even more. Bruce Levenson once explained away the entire previous 5 years this way, “In a nutshell, we just bought out an estranged partner. But this lawsuit has had ZERO impact on how we do business, and how these teams are run.” Wonder how Bruce will “spin” this latest litigation? All I ever ask for Christmas … is new ownership for our Thrashers. I think the AS, LLC never met a courtroom they didn’t like. Do they do anything, normally?

Horsetoothedjackass

January 23rd, 2011
2:41 pm

The shootout is one of the dumbest ideas ever. To me, settling a game on penalty shots would be like settling a tied baseball game with a home run derby, a tied football game with a field goal kicking contest or a basketball game with a 3 point shootout/foul shot competition/slam dunk contest. The NHL was able to go without the shootout from 1917-2005 and did not reintroduce the 5 minute overtime period in regular season contests until the 1983-84 season (they had previous had a 10 minute OT prior to dropping them due to WWII related travel restrictions for the 1942-43 season). Perhaps the NHL ought to return to the 10 minute OT and if the game is tied after that, then go to the shootout. Or perhaps do a 5 minute 4 on 4 as it is currently done, and if after 5 minutes, got to a 5 minute 3 on 3 OT. I like one thing the SPHL does in regards to OT; if there is a penalty in the final 2 minutes of OT, instead of a power play, there’s a penalty shot.

Lee

January 23rd, 2011
2:49 pm

Shootout is a killer. Overall, we played the better game last night, but ALWAYS in the last three minutes or so comes the tying goal. Ugh. Wake up Thrashers! We need to stay in top eight and right now, we’re slowly slipping to ninth. But fear not! Today is a chance to redeem themselves!

GO THRASHERS

Smoothie

January 23rd, 2011
2:56 pm

HTJA – I agree, it’s a gimmick and it needs to be tweaked. Playing 20 min overtimes is impractical. But why not play 10 mins of 4 v 4 hockey before going to the S/O. Expand the S/O to a minimum of 5 shooters to get more players involved in the outcome. Also, the distribution of points needs to be changed as follows: 3 points for a regulation win and 2 points for an OT/SO win with 1 loser point getting doled out. A greater premium must be put on winning in regulation. Perhaps teams would approach the end of a tied game late in the 3rd differently and with more urgency if they could earn a 3rd point in the standings. IDK, but I never even liked the S/O that much when Kozzy, Hossa and Lehtonen were dominating them…seemed like a “cheap” way to win. And it was.

Brendan

January 23rd, 2011
2:58 pm

By the way, I think Eric Boulton was totally responsible for that 1st Ranger goal. Gotta clear the zone when you’re standing with the puck on your blade, a few feet from the blueline.

Smoothie

January 23rd, 2011
3:03 pm

Jeez, and I pride myself on double checking my numbers. Correction: Thrashers have scored 32 goals in the last 15 games since 12/20 vs TOR…it just seems like we’ve played 18 agonizing games since then, but it’s only been 15. Still, that is barely over 2 per game…not good enough obviously.

Brendan

January 23rd, 2011
3:15 pm

I’ve been advocating the 10-minute, 4-on-4 OT for ages. The shootout has to be the very last resort. Of course, I never thought ties were evil, sinister things that had to be outlawed. A tie is a FAIR distribution of points, after 65-minutes of play. A tie also makes the “W” in the win column that much more valuable. Wins are the first tie-breaker. If the shootout must stay, why have points at all? The games are either won or they are lost. So what if 37-44 makes the playoffs? We just take the top 8 teams in the Conference, whatever their record might be.

Brendan

January 23rd, 2011
3:17 pm

Puck drop at 5PM, Rawhide?

Gwinnett Fred

January 23rd, 2011
3:29 pm

Interesting thing about the shoot out.

It’s not used in the playoffs – yet the Stanley Cup Finalists Flyers only made the playoffs last year winning their last game in a shootout.

The NHL needs more consistency (in more areas than just shootouts)

LAC

January 23rd, 2011
3:30 pm

Gee Whiz !!!!

Zoomo

January 23rd, 2011
3:31 pm

Echoing Brendan’s sentiments; this is the only blog I frequent and it is as much because of Bill’s wiitty coverage as it is the posts of the likes of Brendan, Red Light, Glovesave29, Cornbread, at el that keep me here.

Last night’s game had me as frustrated as I’ve been all year. Yes, the effort is better, but I get the sense that the offense is stalled. We are dumping, chasing, and without purpose most shifts. We need to turn on the jets in the 3rd and fight for the extra point. With the exception of the final 2 minutes of the FLA game, we been outplayed in the final period each game since last Friday’s PHL game. It has been ground hog day. We need to pick it up, TODAY!

Other than scoring the goal, Stewart was awful. Buff is getting too loose with the puck. Dawes and Stapleton, not effective! The only positive I see over what we had early in the year is Cormier’s defense play. Patrice doesn’t have any offensive game to speak of , but he seems to clearly understand positioning and various coverage responsibilities. I likening progress in that department.

Rawhide

January 23rd, 2011
3:37 pm

Puck drop at 5PM, Rawhide?

Brendan – Well,really more like 5:07 pm when the puck actually drops….but yeah, my schedule says 5:00.

And thank you for your kind words, Professor.

Zoomo – Same to you. I’m gonna double both of your pays, now :cool:

Brendan

January 23rd, 2011
3:53 pm

At the current minimum wage requirements, you’ll have to fire either Zoomo or me. That’s the “effect” of wage increases on business. I think Zoomo deserves the pay more than I do. I defer to him. If you can manage to pay both of us, at the required wage, do let us know.

Brendan

January 23rd, 2011
3:56 pm

Rawhide, coverage by SPSO at 5PM. Puck drop at 5:07 PM.

Winnipeg Troll

January 23rd, 2011
4:08 pm

If you want to see a real NHL town, check out the Manitoba Moose game at 4:30 on the NHL Network at our arena in Winnipeg.

We curtained off the entire upper deck due to lack of fan interest in the game, so the crowd would look better on TV. See, we do everything better than you.

R. Stroz

January 23rd, 2011
4:09 pm

I’d like to thank the hundreds of fans which showed support for my sign reading:

RELOCATE THE OWNERS

NOT THE THRASHERS

While walking through the concourse, the fans showed their support for hockey in Atlanta with “high fives”, “thumbs ups”,pats on the shoulder, and picture requests.

This town has great hockey fans that have shown their amazing dedication to hockey in Atlanta. It’s a shame we were dealt a group of owners that haven’t shown their dedication to anything but themselves.

Keep the Thrashers in Atlanta, I don’t care where the owners go….anyone who doesn’t support that is extremely misguided.

sisu

January 23rd, 2011
4:21 pm

Big game today, getting 3 out of 4 points is a positive, much better than the alternative! Either way, the team is hurting without one of their best players in Kane. Kane plays a physical game that takes it’s toll over the season. Bogo should be learning the game from the press box, what is more troubling of Bogo is the fact that Ramsey is a defensive teacher and Zack is just not making progress, wonder why that is? Any ideas??? Hope the team breaks the streak and gets 2 points!

Red Light

January 23rd, 2011
4:53 pm

I can see the Thrashers getting another point today, but the Lightning are 7-0 in their last seven OT/SO contests since Dec. 23. and just 3-5 in regulation games since that date. Better to get them before the extra session. The good news is that the Lightning have surrendered an extra point to six Eastern teams during that stretch, or is that the bad news?

There is no question that Atlanta has great hockey fans, and the only reason it’s not a great hockey town? None of the three ownership groups have been as committed to its success as many of us here have, and despite the head employee doing his best to serve the needs of all three of those ownership groups, it has been an unequivocal failure from 2002 to present (not withstanding the anomaly year).

Sara, nice meeting you too last night. I wish I had more time to visit with you. Hope to see you again soon.

Red Light

January 23rd, 2011
4:58 pm

By the way, Kovalchuk played 28-plus minutes last night for New Jersey, who beat Philly. Today, they lead Florida 4-1 after two periods, and he has one goal and two assists. He even went to Lemaire and asked to play more on the penalty kill and Lemaire granted the wish. Maybe old dogs can really learn new tricks? He’s actually plus 4 in his last six games before today.

Well, I found it interesting!

B. Thenet

January 23rd, 2011
5:00 pm

Good for Ilya, he has had a rough go of it. He is a better player than he has shown so far for the Devils.

Of course, I don’t mind them beating Florida at all.

Cornbread

January 23rd, 2011
5:06 pm

Folks I love the game of hockey. I love watching as many different teams as I can. I probably watch 5 games a week on the TV, see one pro game a week in person, and play twice a week myself. I have watched a lot of bad Thrashers games and seen a lot of bad Thrashers teams over the past 11 years. This team is not one of those. I still say this is the best Thrashers team I have ever seen play night in and night out.

They have been playing their system repeatedly all year and have the ability to tweak things when needed. (Another Goundhog Day analogy?) Compare that to teams of the past that lacked any cohesiveness as a whole other than get Kovy and Hossa the puck. They have great depth, speed, size, skill, and character. Their D is the best they have ever had and goaltending is outstanding. And, just as importantly, the coaching is the best they have ever had.

I think they are hurting right now – especially in the goal scoring department – due to the loss of Kane, Slater and Modin. Still, that they are even getting it to OT against some very good teams is testament to the depth and talent that they do have. As skilled and talented as they are though, they are young. They lack the experience to get them through the tight games that have been happening every night. A couple of proven veteran forwards would go further than a couple of disruptive snipers. I’ll take this team as they are now over bringing in an individual Kovy-like scorer.

January was an easier month than December only because of the time off to be able to rest, repair, and retool. They will have faced only one truly weak team in these 11 games and we all know how that turned out. All of the teams they have faced are good defensively or play a hideous trap counter-attack like Tampa. Still, they have been in it for the entire game or played World Beater hockey for 2 periods like they did in their 3 regulation losses. If they win these next two huge games in regulation I will consider the month a success. They are due for a couple of big wins in a row to get some of that swagger back. To lose them bad in regulation could be damaging to their young psyche.

They need to get over this frustrating hump. They are real close. Tighten things up just a bit and keep playing their game for 60 minutes and they will.

I still Believe In Blueland.

Let’s Go THRASHERS!

Smoothie

January 23rd, 2011
5:22 pm

Cornbread – there are no Kovy-like snipers let along bona fide 30 goal scorers on the trading block nor will there be in all likelihood. But more importantly, the Thrashers need another tested, proven veteran who has and can score when the game is on the line and every goal counts. When you play a game whereby you try to win 3 to 2, you need a guy who can score that 3rd goal in the clutch. Other than Buff and occasionally Little & Bergy, who in this lineup do you see being that guy?

Hoof Arted

January 23rd, 2011
5:39 pm

I’m seeing a lot of empy seats in Tampa tonight. It comes through very clear in glorious HD, doesn’t it? But somehow only Atlanta gets ragged on for that.

I’ll bet if the Thrashers had the record the Lightning do and were sitting on top of the division in late January there wouldn’t be as many empty seats here as there are there right now.

Are the Bucs playing today? Oh wait…no.

Cornbread

January 23rd, 2011
6:01 pm

Smoothie I’d add Kane, Peverly, Stewart, and Ladd to that list. Guys like Slater, Modin, Thorburn, and Antropov are all capable of getting those late in the third dirty ones.

I agree that they’d be better off with proven vets that can get the puck out, keep it in, set up the open man and get open for the goal.

Hoof Arted

January 23rd, 2011
6:08 pm

Yeah it’s Groundhog Day alright. Another Bogosian misplay leads to a goal for the Bolts.

Good Lord.

Hoof Arted

January 23rd, 2011
6:09 pm

Bogosian himself is a reoccurring nightmare.

glovesave29

January 23rd, 2011
6:13 pm

Didn’t catch the first – why is Pavelec wearing black pads?

Rawhide

January 23rd, 2011
6:23 pm

glovesave29 – From what I understand, they are just new pads he’s gotten and chosen to use. Oh, and they’re dark blue I believe.

Matt from MN

January 23rd, 2011
6:26 pm

Sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph we are just a pathetic team right now. 4 goals in the second and the dreaded “shorty” to start it off. Bogosian just needs to go, where I really don’t care, just get rid of his waste of roster space.

Matt from MN

January 23rd, 2011
6:41 pm

THIRTY SHOTS AGAINST in two periods????? Oh, the humanity. This is just Groundhog Day for the Toronto game. Geez, we stink. Is that great team we saw in November EVER going to come back?

Cornbread

January 23rd, 2011
6:50 pm

Oh man! Just win the damn third!

Zoomo

January 23rd, 2011
6:51 pm

Same S**t different year. I’ve had it

Cornbread

January 23rd, 2011
6:54 pm

But, I don’t think they have it in them tonight to win the third. When I tuned in and found out the status of the team I thought just play a tight game like you have been. The first was alright but you could tell they didn’t have it. The second was just demoralizing.

Come on young Thrashers let’s see what you got in the third!

SomaAtl95

January 23rd, 2011
7:10 pm

Been a long time since I’ve been kicked in the nads. Watching this game brings all the feeling back and I gotta say, I don’t enjoy it. Going with the “Groundhog Day” analogy our team seems to be the dead guy that Bill Murray never seems to be able to save.

LAC

January 23rd, 2011
7:14 pm

Have not watched a minute of this CRAP ! Knew it was going to be a ROUT !

This team is DONE, I mean DONE, we are now the Old Thrashers AGAIN !!!

zach, AWFUL, no other way to put it, waive him NOW !

What the HELL is dudley doing ? Why have they QUIT playing ? Sick of Tampa BLASTING us !

Well, Glad Reruns of Family Feud are on and The Train, With Bert Lancaster, Much better than THIS CRAP !

SomaAtl95

January 23rd, 2011
7:18 pm

We watch when they win, we watch when they lose. Its part of loving any sport in Atlanta (or anywhere really). I’m not enjoying tonights game but still watching.

Sage of Bluesland

January 23rd, 2011
7:26 pm

Just checked in and see it is indeed Groundhog Day in Thrashersland…Yeah, this is a team gearing up for the playoffs…

Silly sheep; stick to your spweadsheets and your dweaming…One of you even has lil’ Toby as a Hall of Famer…

Wow. Just wow.

Nope; not another dollar wasted on this incompetence…Ownership needs a push in the right direction; one that only a boycott will provide…

Matt from MN

January 23rd, 2011
7:26 pm

@Soma- agreed as I stayed for the entire debacle against Toronto, but it does not make it any easier to swallow when they just roll over and play dead.

glovesave29

January 23rd, 2011
7:36 pm

Yup – NOW it’s the same as the movie – Sage has said the same thing he’s said every day.

Oh – and troll…shall I go and get the Winnipeg attendance records for your time in the NHL…where you never averaged over 13,500 per season in an arena that holds 15,565?

Stats work both ways…

Brendan

January 23rd, 2011
7:58 pm

Look, I know we’re out a lot of key personnel, but … we’re not supposed to lose 7-1, a very “apt” score, though, for that was the distribution of the possible 8-pts between Atlanta and TB from these past two games. I repeat, 7-1. Folks, I haven’t checked it yet, but aren’t we something like 1-4-3 in the past eight games, with the one win being the “miracle” comeback in the final two minutes of regulation vs. the Panthers? I want to say we’re 4-7-4 in the 15? Yeah, I know. I should double-check that. But does it matter, if it’s wrong? The point is, it’s a bad record over 15 games. The points won’t get any easier to come by for the rest of the season. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that we’ve done well vs. the Capitals this season. Mannino got to see some NHL action. I don’t think everything was his fault. This game probably wasn’t much of a confidence-builder for him. But I think he deserves another chance at some NHL action. Maybe not against Ovechkin and Semin and Green and Backstrom, but … after the All-Star break. Wait, when is Mason due back? Is there any update on that???