Thrashers look to go from Rags to riches this weekend

Just a quick couple of comments here before I shove off to Alabama for the second time in three weekends. The younger tax exemption qualified for the Navy National Rifle Championship and left yesterday morning for check-in, registration and practice rounds. He’ll compete for two days and then we’ll make our way back Sunday morning. I’ll join you that afternoon to watch the Thrashers take on the Carolina Hurricanes, but you’ll have to hold down the fort tonight.

I’m counting on ya, Thrasherville.

Given all that, this blog entry will probably serve as your weekend discussion thread…barring some major breaking news that tears me away from my son’s competition. News like, oh I don’t know, an actual trade to help address some of the Thrashers weaknesses.

Anyway…

I don’t know if there are ways to elaborate on the fact that the Thrashers really, really…I mean REALLY…need a win tonight any more than has already been said since Monday’s loss in Toronto. We’ll take ‘em any which way we can these days, but one in regulation tonight would be especially nice. The same can be said of Sunday’s game as well.

During their current 5-11-5 winter hibernation, opponents have skated away from games with either one or two points in 19 of those 21 games. The only two times the Thrashers have denied anyone the courtesy of a win or at least an overtime loser point since December 20 was when they beat Florida 3-2 and Washington 1-0 last month.

Yes, it seems as though this season’s March from the Playoffs came a little earlier than last year’s, and this morning, Thrasherville awakes to find their team sitting in ninth place in the east, just once point ahead of the Buffalo Sabres. They knocked off the Panthers last night 3-2 in OT last night.

But while the Thrashers have indeed fallen on tough times, the schedule gods may have provided a great opportunity for them to seriously get things turned around in a hurry. Turned around, that is, if they can finally put together 60 minutes of solid hockey free of any ill-timed turnovers, unforced errors or any other on-ice brain cramps that have plagued this team of late.

Tonight, it’s the Rangers paying us a call. New York is just four points ahead of us and currently sit in the sixth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Unlike seemingly almost every other team in the NHL, they haven’t played fewer games that Atlanta has. The Rangers have 56 under their belts, same number as the Thrashers do.

The Blue Shirts hobble into town losers of their last five, only gaining an overtime loser point in that time by at least dragging the Penguins to a shootout at the beginning of the month. They last played in Detroit on Monday and dropped a 3-2 decision to the Wings. So maybe we’re catching these guys a just the right time.

Netting a pair tonight would also set the stage for another big showdown with Southeast Division foes Carolina Sunday afternoon. Fresh off their loss in Philly Thursday night, Carolina remains just a point north of Atlanta. They’ll be taking the long route to Atlanta by way of Tampa for a battle with the Bolts Saturday night before making their way here the next day.

So, if all goes according to plan, two Thrashers wins coupled with a Canes loss in Tampa and a Rangers loss in Pittsburgh Sunday would see Atlanta even with New York at 62 points…three ahead of the Hurricanes. That’s kind of like going from…ahem…”Rags” to riches but moving from being on the outside in to once more holding on to one of the valued playoff spots.

Helping matters tremendously would be the return of defenseman Toby Enstrom, (DUH5). C-Viv reports that he went through a full-contact practice yesterday and could be a game-time decision tonight. Things look good, though, for his return Sunday if he’s not able to go against the Rangers.

Since the team’s leader in assists went down with a broken finger the last time the Rangers were in town on January 22, the Thrashers have gone 1-4-1 and have been outscored 24-12.

And finally…if you haven’t yet procured your seats for this Sunday’s game against the Canes, you can still take advantage of the “tickets and a jersey” deal. For $26 you can get a seat in section 203 or 204 and also receive a free replica Thrashers jersey.

For more details, simply call Karin at 404-878-3781 by noon today.

By: Bill Tiller – AJC.com Thrashers Fan Blog

165 comments Add your comment

World Be Free

February 11th, 2011
7:56 am

Congrats Bill and good luck in Alabama. See you Sunday.

Hoping for Toby

Iron League 13

February 11th, 2011
8:02 am

Good luck, Younger Tax Exemption!!!

Mr. Heat Miser

February 11th, 2011
8:05 am

I wonder what color skirt Avery will be wearing tonight?

Iron League 13

February 11th, 2011
8:07 am

Well, the hockey gods have given us some softies in this last month or so that we just didn’t capitalize on, so with fingers crossed I’ll hope for the best, but all bets are off at this point. I know this is tiresome, but a trade or two can’t come quick enough. Enstrom returning and hopefully Slates makes it 2-3 good solid players needed as opposed to 4-5. That’s good as long as our key players don’t go down.

LET’S GO THRASHERS!!!

Red Light

February 11th, 2011
8:07 am

$7 million in prorated contracts for 26 games or 58 days under contract means the actual investment without sending another player off in a deal is what, $2.217 million or so, or $38,259 per day?

Hmmm…

Red Light

February 11th, 2011
8:32 am

The problem now becomes Buffalo. Three games in hand and just one point back. Last night Myers picked up the puck with 12 seconds left in OT at Florida, dashes to the other end and lets go with a slapshot from the top of the circle and scores with 4.5 seconds left.

They play 6-of-7 at home, go on a five-game road trip, and come back to HSBC for another stretch of 6-of-7 at home through March 26. That will be very interesting to see if they move Connolly and free up more space to make a more logical move.

simpleminded

February 11th, 2011
8:37 am

Good luck Rawhhide, Jr.!

I think the Thrash sould dress all the D-men and skate Byfuglien as a forward until the third period when it’s time to squeeze the bench. Kulda should be playing. Limit Oduya’s exposure please.
I can’t wait until Stapleton is no longer needed as a part of the team.

Hoof Arted

February 11th, 2011
8:39 am

Red Light, yes the Sabres are an issue right now. Just a quick as the Thrashers could find themselves sitting in a playoff position this weekend, they could find themselves sitting in 10th place just as fast.

These are playoff games. They will be from here on out and this team better play like it is.

Please coach Ramsay, PLEASE!!!! Sit Modin or Stapleton and play Boulton.

GO THARSHERS!

World Be Free

February 11th, 2011
8:39 am

Red Light-I talked about Connolly late in the last blog. Ottawa’s trade of Fisher has wet the lips of Sabres’ fans thinking they can get a number 1 pick from some team for Plastic Tim. He is a good playmaker, setup man for a finisher. I think Byron is Connolly’s replacement in the lineup next season, but they cannot really afford to move Connolly with Roy out and make playoffs. So what do they do? I think a 2nd round pick is more likely for a rental like Connolly. Myers’ winner last night was a beauty, the Tyler Myers Sabres’ fans saw last season.

VOLinATL

February 11th, 2011
8:52 am

Wish I could be at the games this weekend…GIVE ‘EM HECK, THRASHERS!!

moriler

February 11th, 2011
9:12 am

Craziness. The team hasn’t played well enough to deserve to be in this spot, but I gotta say “thanks” to the Ranjerks and Canes for floundering and letting us hang around.

3trees

February 11th, 2011
9:19 am

Bill – Congrats and good luck to your son.

Also, good luck to the Thrashers. Play some defense and if you get the tying or go ahead goal, don’t give one up within the next minute!

Good to see the photos of Kane in the community.

Go Thrashers!

SomaAtl95

February 11th, 2011
9:34 am

Hoping tonight we bounce those bums back to Broadway. I’m sure we can all say we are tired of this team playing well below their skill level.

BMF

February 11th, 2011
9:42 am

It’s right there in front of us. 4 points. 2 home games, both win-able, VERY win-able. Toby coming back tonight would be tremendous. Curious if he’s got his whole game at this disposal coming off a broken finger, wonder if that affects his ability to blast shots from the top fo the key or take any other one-timers, but hey, Toby does so much else that I’ll take him out there if ne never even shoots the puck once. The effect he could have on Buff is worth it alone. If we don’t pull the trigger on a trade, the impact of his return to the lineup basically has the same effect. Will be nice to see Boulton back as well, would not be surprised if his line puts a puck or two in the back of the net.

I want nothing short of 2 regulation wins this weekend, starting tonight.

Red Light

February 11th, 2011
9:53 am

Interesting quote from Doug Wilson, Sharks GM

“”People talk about a player as if he’s a game-changer,” he said. “They’re not game-changers — otherwise people wouldn’t be moving them in most cases.”

Iron League 13

February 11th, 2011
9:54 am

Rangers tonight likely means a large spike in attendance regardless of the Thrashers suckiness of late, just sayin. Perfect example of why our market could be awesome.

On another note…these two games may be important, but we don’t always do very well against either team, so our guys had better get mentally prepared. I wanna see some real hustle and grit for the duration of each game, it’s playoff push season and it’s time to see how serious they are. Should be very telling.

jimbo

February 11th, 2011
9:58 am

The problem is not the Canes, Buffalo or other teams, it’s a coach who like the ownership “just doesn’t get it”. Schultz points out that D-Buff told him that we can’t win “shinny games” (wide open play) and old Rammeroo wants to open up the offense. Every other team in the NHL that has a run at the playoffs will begin to tighten up play and the Scary One wants to go the other way. DUH, DUH, DOUBLE DUH.

moriler

February 11th, 2011
10:30 am

See, I don’t understand what BUFF is thinking there. From what I’ve seen, we do best playing up and down the ice, rolling four lines, forechecking heavily, and going on the rush when the opportunity arises, because we have young players and their legs can do that. Plus, our guys create better out of chaos than they do out of set plays, because we don’t have many set plays that aren’t obvious right now.

I know we’re trying to become more of a “puck possession” team and get away from just blindly throwing it up the ice, but that doesn’t preclude ‘forechecking heavily’ and being willing to play both up and down and try to wear teams out. But we do need to hit more to do that, I think.

Curious George

February 11th, 2011
10:36 am

Rags to Riches this weekend?

Isn’t that THE OPPOSITE of what the heads of Atlanta Spirit Group did?

Joe Friday

February 11th, 2011
10:38 am

“Schultz points out that D-Buff told him that we can’t win “shinny games” (wide open play) and old Rammeroo wants to open up the offense. Every other team in the NHL that has a run at the playoffs will begin to tighten up play and the Scary One wants to go the other way.”

Yep. This is the time of year playoff clubs tighten up their d. We get burned when we start running around and get into up and down hockey, we can’t win games that way (although we did win some early this year when we played that way if Pavs stood on his head).

If Pavs can get hot again, they can win some more here, it’s pretty much up to him. Hopefully he’ll be sharp tonight after being rested for a few days this week.

Smoothie

February 11th, 2011
11:19 am

The next 12 games are all against teams that are no higher than 6th in their respective conferences (MTL & PHX are both currently 6th), but that is certainly no pre-indicator of success for the Thrashers. HOWEVER, we shall see if Toby Enstrom is truly a difference-maker as he is back in the line-up and we’ve got a chance to win 4 points this weekend and get right back into the thick of the race. If we win both, and Duds DOESN’T make a trade, I will be very, very pissed.

Smoothie

February 11th, 2011
11:20 am

Oh yeah, hoooray Egypt! I hope the transition of power does lead to a sovereign democracy that doesn’t become a safe-harbor for terrorists. Good luck to you Egypt! Historic day.

World Be Free

February 11th, 2011
12:00 pm

Smoothie-I am old enough to remember when Egypt was very hostile to the west. Let’s hope they don’t return their ways of the pasy. Where are you sitting tonight?

Hoof Arted

February 11th, 2011
12:08 pm

Red Light

February 11th, 2011
12:10 pm

A little research (since 2003-04 season) shows that while there are some key pre-deadline and deadline deals for teams that eventually go to the Cup Finals, it is a gamble at best. I didn’t show what the teams gave up, or it would be of Brendanesque length. I may have missed one or two, but…

Here is a list of key deadline acquisitions for those teams that either made the Stanley Cup Finals or won the Cup!

2009-10
Ville Leino from Detroit to Philadelphia Stanley Cup Finals

2008-09
Bill Guerin from NY Islanders to Pittsburgh Stanley Cup Champs
Andy Wozniewski from St. Louis to Pittsburgh Stanley Cup Champs
Craig Adams from Chicago to Pittsburgh (waivers) Stanley Cup Champs

2007-08
Hal Gill from Toronto to Pittsburgh Stanley Cup Finals
Marian Hossa & Pascal Dupuis to Pittsburgh Stanley Cup Finals
Brad Stuart from Los Angeles to Detroit Stanley Cup Champs

2006-07
Oleg Saprykin from Calgary to Ottawa Stanley Cup Finals
Brad May from Colorado to Anaheim Stanley Cup Champs
Doug O’Brien from Tampa Bay to Anaheim Stanley Cup Champs

2005-06
Dwayne Roloson from Minnesota to Edmonton Stanley Cup Finals
Sergei Samsonov from Boston to Edmonton Stanley Cup Finals
Mark Recchi from Pittsburgh to Carolina Stanley Cup Champs
Doug Weight from St. Louis to Carolina Stanley Cup Champs

2003-04
Darryl Sydor from Columbus to Tampa Bay Stanley Cup Champs
Stan Neckar from Nashville to Tampa Bay Stanley Cup Champs

World Be Free

February 11th, 2011
12:23 pm

Hoof-GREAT NEWS!

Red Light- I have expressed my opinions of deadline deals before. For those of us that are a little old, Butch Goring has to be the greatest late season pickup that made the greatest impact. The players you noted above, for the most part went to teams that needed compliment players, guys who could come in and pickup a happening team. At this point, we are less than happening. We need a big deal right now and I just do not see that happening.

Cut bait and focus on the future.

Red Light

February 11th, 2011
12:24 pm

For a list of past Thrashers deals, both just before or at the deadline click on the link below. Not sure if this one is all-in, but it’s close.

http://sportssoutheast.com/index.php/red-light-report/59-nhl/246-thrashers-deadline-deals-since-2000

Cliff Fletcher

February 11th, 2011
12:27 pm

oduya will get traded, he never wanted to be here to begin with. the arrival of kulda makes johnny expendable.

remember what he said we he arrived in atlanta-
“it is what it is” instead of “I am happy to be here and can’t wait to help the team”.

think about it

Alan R.

February 11th, 2011
12:32 pm

remember what he said we he arrived in atlanta-
“it is what it is” instead of “I am happy to be here and can’t wait to help the team”.

He did, but I think he warmed up to the idea. It’s generally not a good idea to interview a player during a game right after he was traded. Some players are genuinely happy to get moved, but some never see it coming.

Oduya and Bergfors are two players who never felt those trade winds blowing, and they felt pretty burned by it.

Oduya displays a good attitude about being here, now. I think he’s embraced being here. I don’t quite see the same in Bergfors.

Cliff Fletcher

February 11th, 2011
12:35 pm

alan r//

it’s not that I don’t like him

I think johnny would rather be with a winner, also think he is expendable. we do not have too many parts that can be replaced here.

Smoothie

February 11th, 2011
12:36 pm

Didn’t Bergfors say “it is what it is”? Perhaps its Swedish for “I see you have an IKEA.” :)

WBF – I’ll be in 203 tonite with K-belle. Where are you? We can definitely meet up at some point, perhaps even during warm-ups?

Red Light

February 11th, 2011
12:49 pm

It was Bergfors, not Oduya who made those comments last year.

World Be Free

February 11th, 2011
12:52 pm

Smoothie-not sure where I am going to be yet. I will be in front of Gorin’s between 6:30 and 6:50 or so. If not there, I will come over to 203 and find you. see ya then.

And yes, Bergfors said the same thing about “being here”. I think Alan R is correct about Oduya warming to Atlanta. But as Cliff says, he may be one of our few replaceable assets right now if we want to make a significant deal.

Thrashy Thrashy

February 11th, 2011
12:59 pm

There goes Rawhide, subsidizin’ the ol’ incompetence again by pimpin’ tickets ‘n’ such.

(By the way, I don’t care for that aspect of the AJC blogs. Hell, even DOB does it on his. He’s a freakin’ journalist. Ahhh, the social media age. The lines between cover-er and cover-ee blur so seamlessly now.)

Badger Bob

February 11th, 2011
1:14 pm

“The next 12 games are all against teams that are no higher than 6th in their respective conferences (MTL & PHX are both currently 6th), but that is certainly no pre-indicator of success for the Thrashers.”

Since the previous 4 games (0-3-1) were against teams no higher than 7th in their respective conferences, I hope Les Thrash focus more on their game (like they did with the homestand that first got us all excited this year) than on who the opponent is.

And bring in some scoring help! RL for GM!

Smoothie

February 11th, 2011
1:17 pm

WBF – sounds good man, we’ll be in row B so we should be pretty easy to spot as I think that is the first row in the 200 section and it may be the one with only 2 chairs.

BadgerBob!! – AMEN! Just pointing that out so we call get even more pissed when we go 3 – 6 – 3 over the next 12. j/k Well, sort of. ;)

Thrashy – I hear ya, but I don’t think Rawhide sees himself as a journalist at all. Perhaps a conveyor of truth w/r/t the state of the Thrashers, but I doubt he’s trying to give C-Viv a run for his money.

Tony C

February 11th, 2011
1:22 pm

I think what Ramsay was talking about (at least I hope) in regards to “opening it up” was moreso him admitting that he got way too cerebral for some players (looking at #4), and then when that didn’t work a little tacky with the players. Players don’t like to be told they are doing suck, and unfortunately (or if we keep the team fortunately) we’ve got a LOT of youngsters on this club-who just don’t have the life experience of things sucking and having to fight through them…he indicated that a key focus of the coaching staff has been players spacing/positioning/process without the puck. This isn’t the easiest thing to do-transfer how you should be positioned with the main source of input being a video or still-image. I’m praying that with this stretch of regular practice and Ramsay throwing away the back section of the playbook and “dumbing it down” will help.

While we can’t win a barn-burner unless Pavelec from December is in net, we certainly can put the pressure on the opposing team. You look at the past month or so and yes, it looks like they boys get lost real quick in their own end. Perhaps it’s because they in fact were. Not knowing and I mean knowing where you’re supposed to be really puts a monkeywrench in a position-specific system like the one Ramsay seems to wont to use. Sure, when spacing is right, the counter-attack starts at the red line. But if one guy is out of position or loafing it back to his own end, a seam opens up and the whole thing breaks down. We simply do not have the talent-level to play loose positionally. It does seem that the team plays better if they play loose mentally. I think that’s what Ramsay is talking about-opening things back up as far as not concentrating on the “advanced-level”(for lack of a better term) positional duties/breakouts/etc. and going with a simpler, more fun “basic level” game-plan.

Also it’d be a real joy to see a Thrashers club that understood how to beat the trap AND have the willingness and grit to do so.

Tony C

February 11th, 2011
1:28 pm

Oh and if any of yall know who this is-tell him AWESOME!

Brendan

February 11th, 2011
1:38 pm

Red Light, for me, the most memorable was the Oilers’ acquisition of Dwayne Roloson at the deadline. That team went from 11th to 8th, and then knockedoff Detroit, San Jose, and Anaheim enroute to a loss in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Red Light, it’d be fun to look at some offseason deals, like this one from July 7, 2002, that translated into Stanley Cup wins, like this one: http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/sports/2002/07/07/2002-07-07_devils_deal_sykora_to_ducks.html.

The Devils traded away one of their best forwards of the past three seasons, Petr Sykora, in a package deal that brought back mobile defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky along with left wing/center Jeff Friesen from Anaheim.

The Devils wound up facing the Ducks in the 2003 Finals. New Jersey prevailed in seven games, in a series where the home team won every game. It might have also been the last time a Conn Smythe Winner came from the losing team (J-S Giguere).

litz

February 11th, 2011
1:48 pm

Here’s a question for y’all …

Is there an owner of a major sports franchise (outside of films with the words “Major” and “League” in the title) more hated than our current ownership group?

I think you’d be hard pressed to find one …

Jason

February 11th, 2011
1:52 pm

This is what I just sent to my ticket rep as to why I won’t be renewing next year.

————-

(Redacted),

I have made the decision, after six seasons of dedication to the Atlanta Thrashers, that I will not be renewing my season tickets for next season. Here are my reasons:

1.) The value of my tickets has been progressively downgraded as the years have progressed, as has the personal value of me as a season ticket holder (STH). I understand the costs have been cut for seats, and I am appreciative of that; however, I apparently don’t “spend” enough money to get items I used to receive as part of my plan. I received a $25 gift certificate per seat for each ticket on my account. Now, since you guys cut the price of my tickets, I apparently don’t spend enough money to receive this benefit. Granted, between the amount I spend on concessions, parking and team gear every year, I spend well over that threshold. This was never explained to me when I renewed last year. I just saw the price cut on seats and blindly followed through. This year, not so much, especially looking at the quality of product on the ice.

Further, I look at a team like Tampa Bay. I’ll be referencing them again later. Here’s what they did (which I know you know they did, but I’m going to include anyway for effect): “All full season ticket holders for the upcoming season will receive a home game jersey with their respective season ticket commitments. The jersey will be reserved exclusively for full season ticket holders with its own distinctive identifying marks. In addition to the sweater’s distinct look, a microchip will be inserted in the sleeve, thereby allowing season ticket holders to be identified at concession stands and merchandise shops throughout the St. Pete Times Forum. By scanning these embedded sleeves, fans will receive a 25% discount on all concessions in the arena and a 35% discount on all merchandise purchased at the Times Forum during Lightning games.”

As an Atlanta Thrashers STH, I’ve never received a free jersey. I’ve had to pay for mine, and now I don’t even get a gift certificate to the store to help pay for it. Also, I don’t get a concession discount. Yay me!

2.) Quality of product on the ice. The Thrashers currently ranks 30th among 30 teams in the amount spent on player salaries. The team also has more money under the salary to spend on talent than any other team in the NHL. The team leading our division – the Tampa Bay Lightning – spends nearly $8 million more than the Thrashers.

3.) Ownership. They’ve wanted to sell the team for six years and lied to everyone about it publicly. Need I say more?

4.) Value as an STH. Let’s look at Sunday’s game against Carolina. If I weren’t an STH and decided to buy a ticket to the game, I’d also get a ticket to the zoo and a ticket to the Georgia Aquarium. But I have bought my ticket to the game. I made my commitment almost a year ago. How do I get repaid for this? Um….yeah. If I buy tickets for Sunday through a blog on the AJC, I get a jersey (I know, a very cheap replica, but still). What do I get for committing almost a year ago to buy tickets? Um…yeah.

5.) Hawks tickets as a perceived benefit. I got tickets to three Hawks games this year. Section 317 Row M. Yeah, great place to watch a basketball game….

6.) In-arena experience. There are two ushers for my section and the four sections around mine most nights. Really tough to enforce things like “puck in play” with two ushers. I understand that not every concession stand can be open in the upper deck, but it makes it tough to get items before the start of the next period if the majority of them are closed. Goal songs we’ve had for years like “Zombie Nation” and “Song 2″ get replaced by a P.O.D. song? I can’t see the LED boards across the way from me due to the scoreboard hanging over center ice, and now, I can’t get any out of town scores either because the old-style matrix boards underneath master control/press box have been turned off.

I was already frustrated as a season ticket holder. After getting the renewal plan, I’m insulted.

DWTOO

February 11th, 2011
1:52 pm

Tony C – He’s the Peverly Hillybilly!

Red Light

February 11th, 2011
1:54 pm

“The Devils wound up facing the Ducks in the 2003 Finals. New Jersey prevailed in seven games, in a series where the home team won every game.”

Brendan: I took my mom to Game 7 that year and saw the Cup raised in person for the first and only time. Very special even without a dog in the hunt.

litz…Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins leaps to mind.

Smoothie

February 11th, 2011
2:06 pm

3.) Ownership. They’ve wanted to sell the team for six years and lied to everyone about it publicly. Need I say more?

Jason – I certainly don’t blame you for bowing out as a STH, but how is this not your #1 reason for not renewing?

That Tampa Bay STH promotion is very interesting to say the least. I wonder if they eavesdrop on people’s conversation via the microchip to see what they really think about the ownership!

Red Light

February 11th, 2011
2:11 pm

Forsberg will play tonight for the Avs against Columbus! Awesome.

Red Light

February 11th, 2011
2:12 pm

Canes GM Jim Rutherford…offered an emphatic “nope” when asked if he had any interest in acquiring either Dustin Penner or Ales Hemsky of the Edmonton Oilers.

Jason

February 11th, 2011
2:14 pm

Smoothie – I went in order of what ticked me off most as I was writing it. Ownership really plays in to everything on that list, so it would be an overarching #1. Yet and still…I felt penalized for keeping the same seats I’ve had for 6 years.

Smoothie

February 11th, 2011
2:16 pm

A fun little back and forth b/w Lebrun and Burnside — who is showing much love for the Thrashers — over at ESPN which you can check out here: http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/4616/daily-debate-whats-wrong-with-detroit-will-atlanta-or-buffalo-earn-playoff-spot

Burnside: I am not sold yet on the Sabres, although having won eight of their past 11 contests is surely impressive. The power play is also starting to cook, which is crucial. During this stretch, they have beaten Tampa Bay, Boston and Montreal. That’s the key if you’re trying to make up ground, beating the also-rans and getting points against good teams. The Sabres have done that.

But I will say this: you are wrong, my friend; the Atlanta Thrashers will get up off the ground and keep the Sabres from charging into the playoffs. At least at the Thrashers’ expense. The Thrash host the slumping New York Rangers on Friday night, and I am guessing you’ll see coach Craig Ramsay’s young squad start to turn things around, even though they’ve won just twice in their past 13 games. Watch for Zach Bogosian to have a big night despite trade rumors.

LeBrun: You’re crazy! The Thrashers are going backward and you know it. But as a local Atlanta boy, you can’t say it. You mentioned the Rangers; they’ve got to get that 24th-ranked power play going if they’re going to hang on to their playoff spot. I can’t tell you how good Toronto’s Tomas Kaberle or Florida’s Bryan McCabe would look on that power play. Problem is, as Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told me this week, at least 14 teams are looking for defensemen.

Another club looking to add on the blue line is the Chicago Blackhawks, who roll into Dallas tonight in what seems like yet another must-win game for the defending Cup champions. They’re three points out of the safe zone. The Hawks made a trade Wednesday night, acquiring Michael Frolik in a package with Florida. He’s a versatile player and the Hawks hope he can rediscover that touch that helped him post back-to-back 21-goal seasons in his first two seasons in the league.

Burnside: We’ll see. For most of the first half of the season, the Thrashers were skating as well as any team in the league. Players like Andrew Ladd are going to help get them on track. Interesting you should mention McCabe. The Panthers aren’t completely out of the playoff race (six points out of eighth with a game in hand as of Friday morning), but you know GM Dale Tallon is looking at clearing out as much salary as he can to accelerate the rebuilding process. Given the demand for defensemen, Tallon’s phone will be ringing for McCabe, as well as netminder Tomas Vokoun.

A source told me yesterday that the issue is McCabe and Vokoun have no-move clauses, and their big salaries (Vokoun’s cap hit is $5.7 million, McCabe’s is $5.75 million) suggest GMs will wait until closer to the Feb. 28 trade deadline in order to save money and cap space. With deals already being made well in advance of the deadline, another source said GMs, especially in the tightly-packed Western Conference, are getting nervous. No one wants to miss the boat on an asset that could help secure a playoff spot, but no one wants to overpay for an asset or make a move before they have to.

LeBrun: A couple of nice pieces you wrote yesterday on the Thrashers, by the way. They’re an interesting story, on and off the ice, as Quebec City announced plans to build an NHL-sized arena.

It’s a good point about the Panthers not being out just yet. That’s why I think Tallon will wait until closer to the deadline to decide on McCabe and Vokoun, both of whom he’s had preliminary discussions with regarding contract extensions, which would need to be economically friendly. If they’re eight or more points out come Feb. 28 and neither player has signed an extension, they may both be gone. Have a great weekend, you lovable redhead!

DWTOO

February 11th, 2011
2:17 pm

Smoothie – Been listening to what the Tampa Bay ownership is doing on Center Ice and have to admit I’m extemely jealous. The plans for the arena and perks for season ticket holders are awesome. The silver lining for Thrasher fans is that the TB franchise wasn’t always is this good of shape. Wasn’t it just a couple of years ago the previous ownership was in disarray? One can always hope.

Smoothie

February 11th, 2011
2:19 pm

Jason – I understand the frustration. Hence why I only buy flex-plan packs for games that work for my schedule. At least that way I feel as though I have a little more control. Plus, I have a good tkt rep who is always trying to hook me up with comps and extras when the timing is good. There are some good folks in the sales dept and it’s too bad that their bosses are complete and utter fools. Their franchise flip failed miserably and now they sue everything in their path with a pulse.