If the Atlanta Thrashers experience any more on-ice flops like last night’s 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders, any and all hopes for the postseason will go the way of too many other seasons…flushed right down the drain. Simply put, there just isn’t enough time left on the schedule to drop stink bombs like that, especially when conference bottom-feeders are in town.
But don’t just take my word for it. Take into consideration what goalie Ondrej Pavelec said after the latest debacle in Blueland.
“We have to realize a few more games like this and we’re done…we didn’t fight like we wanted to get in the playoffs”.
Whenever you find yourselves at this point in the season…clinging to the final playoff spot…with a team like the Islanders in town and the Carolina Hurricanes breathing down your neck…you simply cannot allow the two points to leave town with the visiting team without a fight or a struggle…or, heck, even as much as a sense of passing interest in the outcome.
Pavelec has been doing his best to keep his team in games. And as defenseman Zach Bogosian puts it, “If it wasn’t for Pav, it would probably be a lot worse”.
Spot on, Zach.
But then, who better to speak so glowingly of Opie then the players who has far-too-many times had a view of Opie’s heroics from the best vantage point in the house…about 3 feet away from his goal.
There are a few who could be called out on this team, but I’m going to use Bogosian here as just one example. To be brutally honest, he’s been nothing short of a disaster on the blueline for much of this season. Simply saying he looks “lost” out there is being kind.
To use New York’s final goal as an example… Michael Grabner simply moved untouched past the third overall pick in the 2008 draft and was allowed to make the type of pass over to Kyle Okposo that you’d expect to see during a practice drill. And it’s the kind of play we’ve seen too many times from #4.
Bogosian was on the ice for two Islanders even-strength goals, is a –9 in his last 11 games played and is a –14 in 42 games played this season.
No, he’s not 100% responsible for the current “Gloom, despair and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery” atmosphere that permeates through Thrasherville this morning…and I’m not quite ready to jump on the “Zach Bogosian Must Just So Go Soon” bandwagon. But given how lost he is out there, someone simply needs give him some direction.
Some directions, that is, straight to the press box.
Taking his minutes should be Arturs Kulda, IMHO…at least while Toby Enstrom is on the mend. Not that I think he’d be the magic silver bullet to cure this team of his ills, but I can’t imagine he’d be worse.
Speaking of Toby…his name came up in the Islanders locker room after the game. My good friend Red Light tells me that. Zenon Kenopka, their 4th line center, commented that its clear Enstrom is the glue that holds this Thrashers roster together. And having him out of the lineup with the injury just kills Atlanta.
Given the Thrashers have been outscored 11-3 in the three games Toby’s missed, Kenopka’s comments are clearly on the mark.
After the loss…one that was described as “embarrassing” by Nik Antropov…Chris Vivlamore reported a number of players held an impromptu meeting with coach Ramsay. They demanding certain players should be held accountable for their lack of effort. That’s all well and good of course…and there are several who should be called out. But it seems like we’ve been seeing that “A” word tossed about in the Thrashers locker for quite a while now, and with the possible exception of one Mr. Ben Eager, I don’t really recall any big-name player being held accountable for his actions…or in this case, his inactions out there on the ice.
I’ll close with this from head coach Craig Ramsay. “We lost so many battles in the offensive zone, and that allowed them to keep coming back up the ice. Our work ethic, our commitment, is lacking”.
However, coach Ramsay’s lament about his players “work ethic” has been coming about a frequently as former coach John Anderson”, “A bounce here, a bounce there”, excuses. There comes a time when the actions have to follow the words…a time when the “accounting” that is being demanded is followed up with…well…holding players “accountable”.
Unfortunately for Rammer, if everyone on this team that deserved to sit for a few games actually did, there’d be quite the long line at the press box buffet. But you have to start somewhere.
Like Pavelec said, there’s just not a lot of games remaining on the schedule left for this team to get this thing turned around. And if we see even just a few more heaping, steaming pile of FAIL dumped on the ice…then the giant flushing sound you hear coming from Philips Arena will be the playoff hopes circling the drain.
By: Bill Tiller – AJC.com Thrashers Fan Blog