Thump! Thrashers fall out of playoff berth

That big thump you heard coming from Raleigh, North Carolina was the Atlanta Thrashers falling out of their playoff berth. We’ve seen it coming for some time now, like a train wreck playing out in slow motion…but the sound of it when it actually happens is still rather sickening.

On December 20, the Thrashers beat the Maple Leafs in Toronto 6-3. The win gave them a 19-11-5 record, which at the time was good enough for first place in the Southeast Division and second seed in the Eastern Conference.

That was the high water mark of the season so far.

After the 4-3 overtime loss in Carolina, the Thrashers have now gone 5-10-5 since that time, with only two of those wins coming in regulation. Seven of the 10 regulation losses have been by 3 or more goals, one was by 5 goals and two were debacles in which Atlanta was outscored by 6. In fact, the Thrashers have not even held a two-goal lead in any game since that win in Toronto.

Saturday night, the fall from the top was completed.

As a result of the disappointing outcome Saturday night, Atlanta finds itself in a position they’ve not been since the beginning of the season…out of a playoff spot. The Thrashers and Canes each have 58 points, but they have two more wins and two games in hand. Thus, Carolina has evicted the Thrashers from the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference and has relegated them to the highest non-playoff spot.

Nic Bergfors scores a first periiod goal to give the Thrashers a 1-0 lead, an advantage they failed to hold. They aslo have failed to hold on to their playoff spot as the 4-3 OT loss to Carolina drops themm to ninth place in the Eatsern Conference (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Nic Bergfors scores a first periiod goal to give the Thrashers a 1-0 lead... an advantage they failed to hold. They aslo failed to hold on to their playoff spot as the 4-3 OT loss in Carolina drops them to ninth place in the Eastern Conference (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Much like Thursday night against the Flames, they played a good game for the most part. They got another strong start from Ondrej Pavelec between the pipes as he stopped 33 of Carolina’s 37 shots. Atlanta also got a pair of very big goals from blueliners in the third period as Brent Sopel and Zach Bogosian each tied the score in that period with blasts from the point. And the penalty kill unit even came up huge in killing of 5 of the 6 Hurricanes power plays, including a two-minute long 5 on 3 that was wrapped around the second intermission.

But once again…the hard work comes up just short.

If you were a neutral-party observer tuning into the game in hopes of watching a very entertaining match, you were not disappointed. It was a close, hard-fought game with the outcome in doubt until the end. But for residents of Thrasherville…this was just the latest in what has been a very frustrating six weeks.

All this underscores the need for the organization to make some sort of move prior to the trade deadline at the end of the month. And the way things are going, it needs to be sooner rather than later. This team needs a strong left wing to take Fredrik Modin’s ice time away from him and add a spark to this offence.

They also, in my opinion, need a veteran defenseman to help this team shut down opponents. But then again…we’ve been saying that every winter for how many years now?

Getting Toby and Slater back onto the ice again will obviously been of benefit. However, this squad is still going to need some help from the front office or this season is in serious danger of going the way every other one has save the spring of 2007.

Trying to close out on a positive note…I was very happy to see Nic Bergfors’ good work of late pay off with a goal. It was only his second goal since the last time the Thrashers played in Carolina a month ago but his play recently has been very encouraging.

Unfortunately for Bergie, the game-winner scored by the flames Thursday came via his miscue in the defensive zone. Too many times in a close game like that, one bad play can mean al the difference and will negate the hard work and effort otherwise put forward.

But in a rare moment of candor in professional sports, he manned up and took full responsibility for it afterwards. “Terrible play by me,” Bergfors said of the play. “I tried to chip it out in the middle because I knew their guy was at the wall. I have to look up there and make sure someone is there if I don’t get it out. It was my point”.

“That was a brutal play by me. I have to look up. If nobody is there, I have to eat that puck”.

I’m always appreciative of a young man understanding the importance of owning up to his mistake and making no bones about where responsibility lays. It’s a sign he understands what he’s supposed to be doing and knows what is expected of him.

It also speaks well of his maturation process.

Also worth noting here is the play by Arturs Kulda. Not surprisingly, he put in a strong game on defense filing in for Freddy Meyer. He seems to always be in good position and provides the coach with quality third line defensive minutes.

By: Bill Tiller – AJC.com Thrashers Fan Blog

143 comments Add your comment

Cornbread

February 6th, 2011
4:05 pm

The Thrashers have played three very solid games against the Canes this year. Each time they were every bit as good or better. In the first, they did not win because of Cam Ward. In the second they rebounded after the Toronto loss and played a solid game only to have some very questionable calls go against them. Last night was a combo of the first two. Ward played great and made NHL On The Fly’s play of the day off of his two late game saving saves off of Buff and Pevs and there was some questionable calls and non-calls last night. Oduya interference that led to the Canes first? Give me a break. Then right before Sutter’s second, Burmistrov had a clear break away and was horse collared up high around the neck with Gleason’s hand and stick. No call. Fast break the other way and a goal.

It sucks not to get the breaks but the Thrashers are every bit as good if not better than the Canes. They get three more shots at them to prove it.

Cornbread

February 6th, 2011
4:10 pm

“Only have 3rd and 4th liners talent-wise.” What? Please.

LAC

February 6th, 2011
4:53 pm

smoothie, ALWAYS attacking people with whom he disagrees, What a wonderful life you must live,
Look in the mirror and see what you are… Gee Whiz Grow Up smoothie !

alex

February 6th, 2011
4:55 pm

kj sorry you get offended. if you don’t understand sarcasm i can translate to you from french that with asg and don we going to Canada. i want them succeed here. again if you still don’ understand third meaning being people like you, now clear.

NHL and NBA need change

February 6th, 2011
5:17 pm

it’s a joke that in 30 team leagues you send over half of your league to the playoffs. If there was a more deserving system, the Thrashers would have fallen out of the playoff race a lot sooner.

Needless to say though about the Thrashers this will be yet another year of missing the playoffs … gasp wow shocking I know that a team this good would miss the playoffs … please hurry up and move them out NHL

Brendan

February 6th, 2011
5:32 pm

Midfield, the depth strategy works when you’ve got four lines that score about equally. The key is to find 10 or so twenty goal scorers, while paying something close to equally between $2.0 to $3.3 million. But yes, the talent has to be there. We can’t have a group of AHL’s and call them NHLers. Or, just as bad, we can’t have “washed up” NHLers masquerading of their former selves, of a decade ago. Players who survive more on reputation than actual ability as the FAULT of the General Manager.

Brendan

February 6th, 2011
5:38 pm

Midfield, my post got eaten in SPAM filters, so I’ll try again. The depth strategy works when all four lines are contributing. Darren Eliot likes to refer to that as the “balancing act.” But if the 4 lines aren’t composed of 20 goal scorers, and are instead … a hodge podge of AHLers or NHLers masquerading as themselves from decade ago, it’s bound to fail.

The depth streatgy was working earlier because we were getting goals from Burmistrov, Boulton, Stewart, Thorburn, Slater, Antropov, Kane, Little, etc. But it didn’t last. I still think a depth strategy can work in Atlanta, it just takes finding two VERITABLE 20-goal scorers. And then, not overpaying them, to make it all work.

Brendan

February 6th, 2011
5:40 pm

Is it ’such a joke’ that 16 of 30 teams make the playoffs when the # 3 and # 13 seeds are separated by six or fewer points?

Smoothie

February 6th, 2011
5:44 pm

Now THAT is funny, being told to grow up by the dolt who likes to threaten people on blogs with physical violence and challenge our beat writer to a fight. ROTFL But actually it is quite sad. I’m like a wounded dog man, I only attack when attacked and when idiots like you continue to belittle and beleaguer people for sharing their opinions. You can go straight to the Devil’s department, but please don’t forget to report your track mileage accurately before you depart.

Cliff Fletcher

February 6th, 2011
5:49 pm

would blogger’s attitudes change if we had new, better owners-you bet they would. but having better owners is no assurance that the team would be better. half the owners in professional sports do not know how to manage and greow a sports franchise. and the players know what the real problem is, they leave atlanta because of management not the people of atlanta.

kinda wish i would never have moved to the attack mode earlier this week. when you attack the idiots you are just lowering yourself to their level.

Brendan

February 6th, 2011
5:50 pm

TB beat St. Louis, 4-3, in overtime. The Habs lost to the Devils, 4-1. NJ is coming around now, under Lemaire. Washington blanked the Penguins, 3-0. Penguins miss Crosby and Malkin.

R.Stroztradamus, we need a Super Bowl prediction. How does 9:20 PM sound, for that? I’m picking the Steelers, but rooting for the Packers. It’s a small consolation, but if GB wins, the Falcons can say, “Yeah, we were the # 1 seed, but we lost to the eventual Champions.” It does make the defeat slightly more palatable.

Brendan

February 6th, 2011
5:52 pm

Ummn, that should read ten (10) twenty goal scorers, not two, in reference to the depth strategy.

World Be Free

February 6th, 2011
6:06 pm

Smoothie-are you going to the game this coming Friday night?

Brendan-I like the depth concept, but I also think some teams play better for short periods when rolling 3 lines instead of 4. Players get into the game when they have less time on the bench, regardless of who the 9 forwards are. Just from my experience as a player.

Brendan

February 6th, 2011
6:09 pm

Cliff Fletcher, good post! The name calling is the effect of nothing left to argue. Name calling ruins every blog. Good for you for realizing it. Right about now, people want change. They see another season slowly slipping away and don’t want to spend another spring in Atlanta without playoff action.

Re: ownership change, for sure, we would have NO IDEA what we’re getting. At first, there’d be elation at something, ANYTHING new and different. But, it could be another bozo, or group of bozos, or a CORPORATION that doesn’t care. Even Arthur Blank is no guarantee of successful ideas.

Here is my stance on ANY ownership: “Are they TRYING to win?” If the answer is, “yes,” but they FAIL, that’s still OKAY. Why? “They’re TRYING.” And the players agents SEE and RECOGNIZE that the ownership is TRYING. So? So what? Well, player’s agents have a pretty good idea which ownerships are spending money or making good decisions as it relates to chasing championships. They’d be HORRIBLE agents if they didn’t. Just six years ago, free agents wouldn’t touch Chicago with a 10-foot pole. But once it became clear that they were gunning for a Stanley Cup, the players responded in kind. Martin Havlat, Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell … all found their way in UFA years to the Blackhawks. So, for me, ownership that is TRYING … is GOOD ENOUGH for me.

How many UFA’s will lineup for the Florida Panthers this offseason? Anyone bangin’ down the door to get to Edmonton? Or Calgary? Or Columbus? It’s a tough sell. Those markets need ownership to step up with either signing UFA’s, making GM or Coaching changes, or making sure than pending RFA’s are locked up, including via PROACTIVE contracts. Those are tell-tale signs of an ownership that is TRYING.

I don’t mind failure. Every year, 29 teams fail to capture the Cup. What bothers me … is the half-hearted, or NO hearted effort at the pursuit, by ownership. I think a LOT of fans see that, plain as day. Here we are … with each home game a ‘playoff’ game, and we’re getting 11,000 fans. Why? Is the answer really, “Well, the interest level isn’t here?” No way. There’s tons of hockey interest here. The abstinence of fans is directly the result of an alienated fanbase that knows and recognizes when an ownership group isn’t TRYING to win Cups.

Brendan

February 6th, 2011
6:14 pm

WBF, if you shorten up that bench to 3 lines too early in the season, they have no legs left for the Spring Dance. That’s the danger of not rolling 4 lines with at least some form of frequency. A TRUE depth strategy rolls all four lines … something pretty close to equally.

As a wise friend once told me, “you want players to get on the stat sheet more, play them more. The guys who get the minutes … get the points.” True, that. You can’t Eric Boulton to be among the top six scoring forwards in Atlanta playing 6:30 per game. Correction, or a player ‘like’ Eric Boulton.

Smoothie

February 6th, 2011
6:27 pm

WBF – yeah, we’ll be there, in the 200’s somewhere. We gotta meet up. And I agree about shortening the bench, it wouldn’t kill some of these guys to play 18-19 mins / game for the short term to get going somehow. Too many shifts for guys that aren’t much of a threat to score. What do we have from our bottom two lines in terms of goals? 4, 5? If that, perhaps 7 or 8 if you count Nik A.

Cliff – I just like talking hockey. We all know the complexities of our ownership situation and realize there are no easy fixes. But this bunch can play better and win some games. The teams we’ve lost to by one goal recently aren’t exactly tearing it up. They may not make the playoffs but it’d be nice to see some growth from a young group instead of constant regression and adversity.

Smoothie

February 6th, 2011
6:32 pm

*4 or 5 goals in the last 20 games or so. Apologies for the lack of clarity.

Tom

February 6th, 2011
6:33 pm

Hey, is there a football game on tonight? Football does really suck compared to hockey. First baseball went by the wayside, now I can barely watch a football game as it is SO SLOW…

LAC

February 6th, 2011
7:27 pm

smoothie, you brain show more and more signs of alzheimer’s disease every time you blog something. Heck I forgot more about this fine game than you will ever even know.
When the kettle is black, call it so, you can’t so get checked on OK ???

Cliff Fletcher

February 6th, 2011
7:52 pm

smoothie and brendan////

none of the teams in competition for the 7th and 8th spots in the east are tearing it up. I think some of us realize that we are still in the hunt with the hope of being able to sqeek in. really amazing to look back and see how far we have fallen the past 6 weeks, from the penthouse to down below. we cant change the owners no matter how much we attack each other. so let’s talk hockey-you guys have both proven you know the game, you are both good hockey men.

keep up the good work.

World Be Free

February 6th, 2011
8:30 pm

You know Brendan, the concept of rolling 4 lines is a great concept for an entire season + playoffs for keeping players fresh. My issue with 4 lines, as stated before is your key players not getting enough ice time thus staying sharp in the game. Kind of like rotating quarterbacks or defensive lineman. The more you play the more you develop rythum.

It looks like Rammer is shortening his bench in key situation, using his 4th line on occasion vs the 4 line concept. You have to be the right kind of player to play 4th line, keeping your edge while only playing sparingly. I’d like to see Bolts more too.

Smoothie – see you Friday, not sure where I am sitting we can communicate through the blog king Mr. Rawhide. See you then.

Super Bowl Halftime Show-was that bad! I guess I never realize how homely Fergie is. Give me the Who, Stones, The Boss or McCartney anytime!

Smoothie

February 6th, 2011
8:54 pm

Yeah, the utter, inane silliness of the SB halftime show never ceases to amaze.

See you Friday your Worldness!

kovyoverrated

February 6th, 2011
9:18 pm

Brendan- Thank you. You said what I was trying to say. Every good hockey fan realizes that only one team wins the cup. All we ask is that our team have the vision and the drive to get to the promised land. Pittsburgh is THE example. It has always been a Steeler city. Everybody who lives there, from there, has an Aunt that lives there, is a huge Steelers fan. The Steelers have sold out games for 30 years. You can go to a Pirates game anytime you want for about $5 now because they are awful, have no payroll, and are just running as part of MLB, as a franchisee. In the early 90’s and late 70’s, though, the Pirates ruled the city. They built programs that consistently reached the playoffs and even won it all with Stargell and crew. The Pens are presently the “Gem” of the NHL. Talent, vision, a star, a championship. A couple of years ago, the franchise was as good as gone. No money, no fanbase, bad leadership. Sound familiar?
If we get the right ownership, with the right plan, with the drive to build something, the Atlanta Thrashers could be a consistent success. Would players rather live in Montreal, Buffalo, Jersey, Ottowa, or Atlanta? No brainer. The FA’s would want to come to Atlanta.
The only hope for this franchise is to be sold outright. Hopefully, that buyer will keep them in Atlanta. With the history of this franchise, the new owner will probably take them to Canada.

kj

February 6th, 2011
9:53 pm

alex,

Not offended at all, just calling it like it is. What I don’t like is if you are a true HOCKEY fan, and I am, you want the sport to succeed all over North America. Let everyone experience what is truly the greatest team sport. I grew up right across the river from Canada in Detroit and I was a Toronto Maple Leaf fan as a kid…my Mom was born in Canada and I worked in Canada for a time. I can totally see their passion and ownership of the origins of the sport. I totally get that. I love the passion they have for the sport and that it is as important as the NFL is to us in the U.S. I love Don Cherry for crissake! But please, if you love the game, you have to acknowledge that it needs to GROW and the people who love the game that have migrated to the south, Americans and Canadians included, passionately want to see the game be appreciated by new fans all over the U.S. Those who have accepted and wanted the sport to succeed are passionate. Unfortunately, the owners often aren’t passionate hockey people and instead are disinterested, incompetant figureheads, just what the NHL doesn’t need. Good ownership equals a good team – in any sport (e.g Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, New York Yankees, etc.).

Promote the game and it thrives even more in its’ native Canada as it grows in the Southland of the USA.

R. Stroztradamus

February 6th, 2011
10:05 pm

I predict the Packers will win the Super Bowl.

Brendan

February 6th, 2011
10:14 pm

WBF, my mistake. You did say for ’short periods of time.’ And I also agree that it’s good for the guys on the bench to keep a good sweat going. And they only do that … is if they’re playing. It’s got to be hard … to sit there at frozen ice level … watching for 11-13 straight minutes, then getting a tap on the back that you can finally have a 25-35 second shift.

Congrats to the Green Bay Packers, who just stopped the Steelers on a 4th and 5, to lock up the World title, 28-25. Great Super Bowl. Looked like a ‘blowout’ earlier, at 14-0, and 21-3.

Koveyoverrated, in Atlanta, players get to enjoy their millions … watch their money go farther … in better weather … and relative anonymity. In Toronto, you’re spotted constantly, pestered for autographs, and bereated by the city’s hockey fans for poor play. Nobody walks up to a Thrasher player and says, “Do you have any kind of IDEA of the history of the logo on your jersey? You OWE it to the team legacy to play better and appreciate your position with this club.” I doubt that has EVERRRR happened. And if it did, the Thrasher player being bereated by a ‘know it all’ fan … would probably just laugh, saying, “What History??? The one that includes no playoff wins and league minimum budgets?? That History??”

Brendan

February 6th, 2011
10:23 pm

R.Stroztradamus, I need a final score, for your prediction.

Joe Friday

February 6th, 2011
10:26 pm

“I guess I never realize how homely Fergie is”

WBF, really?

Hot. As. Balls.

she’s bust your nut

Brendan

February 6th, 2011
10:41 pm

Matters of taste, JF and WBF. Matters of taste. There’s no accounting for it. Remember how split this blog was on Natalie Taylor? Remember the “Free Natalie Taylor” campaign?, which prompted one poster to retort, “They’re giving away free Natalie Taylors. I’ll take one.”

R. Stroztradamus

February 6th, 2011
10:51 pm

Brendan – Although I was aware the score would be Packers 31 Steelers 25 by 6:00 PM, I was distracted by the commercials.

My two favorites: the “Doritos: Back From The Dead” and the “Kid Darth Vader.”

World Be Free

February 6th, 2011
10:52 pm

Smoothie-see you Friday.
Brendan-coach has to know his players, which ones thrive on lots of ice tim, which can handle the work load without burning out. I guess that’s the best way to put it. But in the end you have to have the guys on the ice who can protect a lead in the 3rd or close the gap when we are behind. Need the leaders during our nightly second period slumber too, wherever those leaders may be.

J/F-I think I’ll pass on Fergie great Danica commercial though sans the leather.

kj-I liked Cherry in the 80’s when he was still fresh. But he’s become alot like John Madden and Bill Russell when Bill was doing the NBA. There’s a time when you need to hang it up and Cherry’s best days are past him. I say the crew at TSN is BETTER than the ensemble at Hockey Night in Canada. I do understand their passion for the sport, though I think nationalism is just as muchg a driving force in Canadian hockey as the game itself. Much of this can be attributed to the competion we enjoy as Americans with Canada in ice hockey.

There are so many U.S. northern and Canadian fans living in Atlanta, it makes sense that under the right circumstances the game should thrive here as it did the first 4 seasons. But you cannot fool fans when it comes to caring about winning. That’s the issue here, top to bottom-show us you care and we will all come back to the rink – fill the barn.

Nothing like living across the bridge from Canada and making the trip to a Canadian beer store for refreshments. I sure do miss that!

Get The Puck Out

February 6th, 2011
10:57 pm

Snickers commerical was awesome also.

Brendan

February 6th, 2011
11:00 pm

Cliff Fletcher, I am somewhat concerned about the teams underneath us, as well. One of those teams was Carolina, presently ahead of us by virtue of games-in-hand and victories. Also, Buffalo is capable of putting a streak together. Right now, I hate to say it, but the Devils are playing better than we are. It’s too late for them, in terms of a playoff spot. Even if teams in 7th and 8th spot do falter, it doesn’t mean we take their place. For us, the bottom line is … we can’t look to the teams around us to help us keep pace. We just have to take care of our own business. But lately “business is bad.”

Brendan

February 6th, 2011
11:07 pm

Kid Darth Vader was funny. I like the part of the “GoDaddy.com” commercial that said, “But contractually obligated to do something risque.”

Flagstaff

February 6th, 2011
11:27 pm

“Give me the Who, Stones, The Boss or McCartney anytime!”

WBF: Agreed! I’m a big fan of Bruce, especially.

The halftime show made me think– nobody needs real talent anymore to be famous. They just need a nice body (whether given by God or by a plastic surgeon) and a good agent… /rant

Too much melodrama from the players for me… and I never realized how much more slow and boring football is than hockey until I became a big fan back in ‘07. I still like football, but not nearly as much as the reason we all post here. (No, not litigation.) Ended up getting kind of bored, so I ended up watching The Sopranos for most of the fourth quarter.

Now, to more important matters… why has Dudley not made any trades yet? The true answer is kind of obvious, that he doesn’t want to damn the future of this franchise for one playoff appearance, and the trade market is currently less than optimal. However, how long does Dudley wait? This ship is sinking, attendance has dropped again. I’m beginning to worry in earnest now. A long time ago, I posted that I would remain unfazed by the team’s struggles (I think that this was when Alfred E. Newman last made an appearance on the blog) until they dropped out of a playoff spot. Well, it’s happened.

Does he make a trade before tomorrow’s game?

ZAvalanche

February 7th, 2011
1:36 am

It isn’t over till it is over. Thrashy still has a chance, a small one, but a chance. Not that this matters to Thrashy, but it is official, Forsberg is officially back as an Av. Hopefully there will be a SC finals match with Thrashy and the Avs (very doubtful though).

World Be Free

February 7th, 2011
5:35 am

Flagstaff-I just think the trade market is small because of the lack of sellers and the large number of buyers. If we look around, Dudley isn’t the only GM not making deals. He has a greater need than some, the few selling GMs know it. We don’t need another Coburn for Zhitnik trade which is probably what Dudley is up against right now.
Brenden-Natalie Taylor, Kovy, Todd White the long list of “ex’s” from Atlanta.

Get The Puck Out

February 7th, 2011
9:13 am

This is just my opinion, but i’d rather not make it to the playoffs than to totally be made a joke of by the no.1 seed, cause if we do make it we will be the no.8 seed. Just play like you wanna make the playoffs.

Cliff Fletcher

February 7th, 2011
9:55 am

get the puck///

i think the thrashers’ fans could accept not making playoffs if we had a management group that put forth a plan for the future. how are we going to get to the playoffs and stay there in the future? if we had that, then i could accept not making playoffs only to get thumped by number one seed. problem is we have no plan from the top down so making playoffs is the only way to satisfy the shrinking fan base.

Joe Friday

February 7th, 2011
9:59 am

Alright, today is a new day. Doesn’t matter who, how, when, where, what we’ve done these past 20 games. Get 2 pts tonight and move ahead, is Slater ever coming back?!?

Rawhide

February 7th, 2011
10:04 am

Ya know gang…while I was watching the Green Bay Packers win the trophy named after their late-great coach, Vince Lombardi…I wondered if even he could find a way to properly motivate this Thrashers organization. From the players all the way up to the ownership cluster.

TrueBlue

February 7th, 2011
10:05 am

Where are people getting the idea that Pavelec had a good game last game?? He had a God awful game. He gave up some of the easiest goals I have ever seen. All the goals, except the first one, were wristshots from just past the blue line. That is pathetic. The shots were un-screened and just basic wristshots to the top corner. It is obvious people are figuring out his weaknesses.

Joe McGrath

February 7th, 2011
10:28 am

Bogosian as a winger? Let ’s see…he excells at dishing the puck in front of the net. When the puck is in close and players are battling in the crease, he’s usually hanging about 10 feet from the action and avoiding contact. I think using him as a forward is genious! If your not going to trade him or send him down to the Wolves, then move him to RW.