I wasn’t able to attend the game against the Calgary Flames Thursday night. There were some pre-planned events that the Divine Mrs. R had asked me to help with and…seeing she is always very understanding with my hockey schedule… when she does ask me to stay back and render assistance, I gladly oblige.
Because of that, I was able to listen a bit to Dan Kamal on my car radio as well as follow some of it on TV with Matt McConnell and Darren Eliot. As I switch from one media outlet to the other throughout the evening, all three were saying much the same thing regarding the Thrashers play…that the effort and work ethic on the ice was far better than what was on display during the 4-1 loss to the Islanders Tuesday.
Indeed, they did perform much better than they have of late. They were fighting hard and doing a lot of things right on the ice. But until the NHL starts giving out points in the standing for playing respectably, none of that really matters…does it?
Sure, as Eliot said afterwards, sometimes you have to show yourself you can play well again before the results come. However, the current tailspin the Thrashers are in does not allow much time for that to eventually come around. The points have to start coming with the effort now.
Too many times since New Years, this team has found itself tied or within a goal during the latter stages of the game…only to find themselves on the wrong end of the score after 60 minutes have been played. This was true in the game against Toronto a few weeks back, against Philadelphia and in Dallas just after that and most recently this week against the Islanders when a 1-0 first period lead turned into a 2-1 deficit late in the second.
Those games resulted in 9-3, 5-2, 6-1 and 5-1 losses respectively.
Thursday night, Atlanta held took a 2-1 after Nik Antropov fed a nice pass over Anthony Stewart for his 13th goal of the season. It was a lead they held for all of 55 seconds before Brendan Morrison knocked home a pass from Mark Giordano. But regardless, it was a game they had within their reach going into the third and….and…and…
As has been the case all too many times, confusion in front of the net and the inability to clear the puck lead to what would be the game-losing goal. It came with just under six minutes to play and the Thrashers were unable to recover from it.
About the only thing to get even halfway happy about after this latest disappointment is that Carolina was beaten by Toronto 3-0 while the Flames were winning their first game in Atlanta since they called the city home. What it leaves us with is the Thrashers still up on the Canes by one point in the standings and one huge game in Raleigh on tap for Saturday night.
They’ll need another good effort in Carolina that night. Only this time, the effort better come with points…or this mid-winter tumble will roll them right out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
By: Bill Tiller – AJC.com Thrashers Fan Blog