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

Alan R.

February 12th, 2011
1:21 pm

I’m with RStrozerson, here. Move Bogosian up front and see what happens. Byfuglien might be “playing like an average defenseman,” but he’s also still adjusting. Couple that with the return of Enström, and everything should fall back into place.

Smoothie

February 12th, 2011
1:22 pm

R/L – good point about the challenges the Rangers face. They do seem to be lacking up the middle and do not have a Toby E type who can control the game with his head and stick. They along with CAR, due to their youth, age at certain positions and inconsistent D may be the paper tigers in this race. Of course, if Buff doesn’t step up his game and our young guys don’t play like they did last nite, we’re in trouble as much as them. Buffalo may have enough to make a serious run as their D seems to be playing better and they’re heating up offensively. Montreal looked like they were gonna create some separation but now they are struggling with consistency. Plus, they have a lot of road games left and may let teams catch them if they don’t find a spark. The race is gonna get crazy I think and our 3 remaining games with the Canes may be the most pivotal for us.

Red Light

February 12th, 2011
1:45 pm

I understand people looking for more out of Zach, but forward isn’t the answer. He’s just young and needs time. A little more patience required but he has lots of ability. He also needs to hit people.

DWTOO

February 12th, 2011
2:29 pm

Interesting observation regarding D Buff – he rally isn’t the hitter we saw last year. He and Pronger had a real good battle in the finals. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as he’s taken more than one good ride into the walls and maybe he’s banged up. Also, I remember Ex – he of the good hit and then being out of position. Maybe a combination of the two.

As for Bogey thouhgt he showed some real good flashes moving the puck and passing. And then again he an almost disasterous wiff, too. But, he’ll get there. And think it may be “Don’t let the door hit you in the butt, Nic” Bergfors. Has some talent, but, needs to play with intensity.

Cornbread

February 12th, 2011
4:39 pm

DWTOO you are correct about Buff and I think this comes down to coaching. Ramsay does not want guys hitting just to make a hit if it is going to leave them out of position. No way should Buff be moved up nor should Bogo. Now that Toby is back he makes up for a lot of Buff’s out of position when he jumps into the play. Kind of ironic that is Ramsay’s system but it’s probably a trade-off. What would you rather have, a D-man out of position on the attack scoring a goal or a D-man out of position making a hit in the neutral zone? Bogo has been playing great and I like him paired with Hainsey again. This time though Hainsey can be more responsible and let Bogo go with it. Same with Sopel and Oduya. Interesting that Zach is the number 3 right now. That is a big change and shows how he is starting to turn it around.

Cornbread

February 12th, 2011
4:52 pm

Stewart played a great game last night along with Kane. Those two are perfect wings together. Anybody else think Stewie may have been the one to get the game winner? He pointed at Kane that it was his goal but there was one replay shown only once at the end of the game last night from the goal line that may have shown Stewie batting it in before it crossed the line. Great hand eye. I’d like to see the overhead. Not that it matters but it was a great team goal all the way around. Several guys played hard last night and Stewart was one of them. I’m not going to fault him for the penalty. He went out there early in the second and was trying to make something happen to gain position. Guys who don’t take penalties – Bergfors – never get close enough to a puck carrier to make anything happen, good or bad.

HookyBob

February 12th, 2011
5:13 pm

Mr Strozer,..I’m still reading the blog,..just not writing any. TFA.

Brendan

February 12th, 2011
10:12 pm

Sure, fine. TB wins over Carolina. That’s what we wanted. What we didn’t want … was TB surrendering two (2) goals in the final 51 seconds of regulation to toss a ‘pity point’ back in Carolina, in what WAS a 3-1 game!!

Why Bolts, why?? Didja HAVE to give up those two “late” goals to Carolina?? Was that COMPLETELY NECESSARY on your part??? Sheesh. 51.2 seconds away from a regulation time win, with a TWO GOAL cushion.

Sigh. It is what it is. I’ve always said, “We can’t rely on OTHER TEAMS to do our bidding for us. We must handle our own business.” Well, that means tomorrow’s game puts even more on the line.

Brendan

February 12th, 2011
10:16 pm

Cornbread, I also thought that might be Stewart’s goal, too. I was surprised when it wasn’t reviewed and changed. But hey, it’s good enough that it counted.

Disappointing night in Tampa Bay. Bolts can’t hold a 3-1 lead, with LESS than a minute left. Thud. That aggravates me, even more than my tax return today!!

Brendan

February 12th, 2011
10:36 pm

Preds score late tallies to beat Colorado, 5-3. Good job, Nashville! I don’t know if Mike Fisher tallied or not. I think anything negative directed to Carrie Underwood is completely misplaced, by Senators fans.

Brendan

February 12th, 2011
10:40 pm

Hossa misses on Chicago’s 3rd and final shootout attempt. So, the Phoenix Coyotes win. I sure do hope the Yotes are going to the postseason dance this year. I really want them to face the Nashville Predators in the opening round.

Russian

February 12th, 2011
11:05 pm

We are 9-th position again. We have to win tomorrow.

Joe Friday

February 13th, 2011
12:55 am

“I was flipping back and forth! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOo….isles gooning it up. The pens got straight WORKED. ahhahahhaz’

Ok, with all due respect. Sorry, let me have a do over on that . . . with all the respect that you are due after writing that tripe, . . . .wake the f up douche . . .

The Islanders goalie, DiPietro got knocked out for injecting his elbow into the play, Johnson walked on down and made him pay the price for the cheap play he made. The Isles decided to goon it up, and you are pleased with that because A) it is good hockey B) it makes you feel good C) you’re getting that tingly feeling up and down your leg?

Your answer is?

Let me go for ya, because your a gigantic . . . nice guy?

Fish Stick Fan

February 13th, 2011
7:13 am

Joe Friday………you need to understand the facts that led to this display by my Islanders. After Pittsburgh beat us last time the Penguin players were seen laughing and mocking the Islander team from the bench. This is no excuse for the actions taken but realize this is what will happen when you mock a team and are the darlings of Bettman. I think we can all admit the Penguins are the darlings of the NHL front office and get away with cheap shots constantly. Fans and the rest of the league have had enough. I believe “Prince Sidney” even took liberties with some of your Thrasher players in the past and got away with it.

The good news is that my Islanders needed no goon tactics when beating your Thrashers last time. Perhaps if your Thrashers had shown any heart they would not have allowed us to waltz into Phillips and take your toys without a fight.

At least the Islanders will have partners on the golf course in April. Call us for tee times!!

Joe Friday

February 13th, 2011
8:54 am

Isles fan, that was a pathetic display from your pathetic club. Dumbs down hockey and the fans that would support that crap are even more pathetic.

World Be Free

February 13th, 2011
9:16 am

Red Light-reading my mind all the way on Buff.
Exacrty why I would want him at forward closing in on defenseman. Chara without the physical reputation would just be a good defenseman, not what he is today. So I too wonder why Buff takes more hits that he gives. It’s almost like when he takes a hit you wonder if the hit will wake the big guy up-rarley happens. Then you see him skate away and you wonder why he does not use his obvious physical talents.

Defense or forward, he has to be more physcial. Remember Steve Patrick with the Rangers? 6′5″ 230# in the 80’s and he would not hurt a fly. If you got it, use it.

World Be Free

February 13th, 2011
9:25 am

Need your help Trixie
Brendan-furious when I saw Carolina come back late with on Tampa. Bolts could have had 2 points clean and clear except they had to give Carolina 1 for the effort.

The Grabner kid looks like a kid, but he’s got wheels and he uses them. Isle have alotta injuries but they sure play 60 minutes just like we wish we saw every night from the Thrashers.

Sabres get the Islanders in Buffalo today. The post about Buffalo’s defense is right on, they are finally starting to come together. Letting veterans Lydman and Tallinder walk last season for nothing really hurt the Sabres D. The current unit is finally coming together, both offensivley and defensively. I was a big fan of Shaone Morrison, was hoping the Thrashers would sign him. He is coming on for Buffalo.

Tony C

February 13th, 2011
9:32 am

Anybody been looking at likely draft-choices? I’m hoping we go for guys out of the W.

World Be Free

February 13th, 2011
9:35 am

Luke Schenn and Zach Boigosian

2 defenseman drafted in the same year that should have been left in juniors and not forced into the NHL. Neither player was ready to play in the NHL. Most people blame the players instead of the organizations that believe in on the job training when we all know it rarely works with NHL defenseman. Pietrangelo in St. Louis, drafted at the same time was left in juniors, allowed to mature is playing like an NHL defenseman.

World Be Free

February 13th, 2011
9:40 am

So are we giving up our number 1 pick for Chris Versteeg?

World Be Free

February 13th, 2011
9:50 am

Fish Stick Fan-looks like the league was not as enthused with your Islanders’ play as you are. No need for the Penguins making a mockery of the Islanders, they have been doing that on themselves for a long time. When was the last competitive Islanders team? How about 1984, so they have been bad for a generation. Pens did what the rest of the league has been doing for years. No wonder Bryan Trottier, the best 2 way forward of his era, considers himself more a former Penguin than a former Islander-think about it.

FIF posts here and he gets it-you don’t.

I like physical play as much as anybody, but your friend Gillies will be in the press box for a couple weeks. Your team hustles but you still have a Wang on top.

Darkhorse

February 13th, 2011
10:23 am

Sorry WBF, the market may dictate a 1st for Versteeg by the deadline, but I wouldn’t bite on giving up our 1st unless the package included more…..i.e..salary dump for us(Hainsey/Antropov) and a good prospect back with him. I know the Leafs don’t want either of those guys though.

Wouldn’t you put Versteeg’s abilities at or just below Ladd’s? Ladd’s not worthy of a first by himself in a normal market either. I’m sure quite a bit of overpaying will take place in the next few weeks, but doubt Dudley will overpay.

Fish Stick Fan

February 13th, 2011
10:33 am

WBF – ” Your team hustles but you still have a Wang on top.”

Very good WBF. Better than eight Wangs and one a…hole as President! I lived in ATL for years and wound up moving north Sorry to see things have not changed down there.

World Be Free

February 13th, 2011
10:52 am

Fish man-let’s face it, we are both in less than desireable hockey situations.

World Be Free

February 13th, 2011
10:57 am

Darkhorse-Versteeg isa good player if he is on a good team. The Leafs will want a trade like the one they just made with Anaheim, they will want a pick or prospect back not salary for the long term. Lupul is an OK player, in my opinion, he does not have the speed to be a top 6 forward.

Would Versteeg help us win now? Yeah I think he would be an improvement over our current forwards but are we willing to give up a number one? I think the blog will be split on this question.

Fish Stick Fan

February 13th, 2011
10:58 am

WBF – Agreed plus we’ll do our best vs Buffalo to help you guys out.

Smoothie

February 13th, 2011
11:04 am

Versteeg is far more skilled than Ladd, but Ladd has come closer to mastering the art of playing to his abilities and not trying to do too much. Y’all are placing way too much value on mid-round 1st picks. Ladd WAS a top 10 pick in 2004 and wasn’t Versteeg a late first rounder in his class?

World Be Free

February 13th, 2011
11:10 am

Smoothie-especially in this draft class, not supposed to be one of the better drafts in recent years.
Especially since we have the bad habit of rushing our top picks to the NHl anyway.

Any news lately on Boris? Speaking of top 10 picks that did not pan out.

Darkhorse

February 13th, 2011
11:39 am

My fear is a Versteeg type player by himself won’t fix our woes and we would give up a lot to get him. It will take a return to optimal over-achievement from the team, and another piece, along w/someone like Kris to get us back to the PO and actually make a little noise. Just can’t tell if this team has the mental guts to pick itself back up and regain the early season confidence it will take. I hope they do of course, and I do like Versteeg’s game. A bit over-payed at 3mil, but so are many other who contribute far less.

Darkhorse

February 13th, 2011
11:42 am

Not that I am arguing salary, since we are the welfare team of the NHL.

A mental checkmark in my book would be a PO’d Thrasher team taking it to the Canes this afternoon. That will be a start if they are interested in building any type of momentum.

Smoothie

February 13th, 2011
11:43 am

Yeah, I haven’t heard much about this draft class being anything special and certainly not as deep as last year’s first round.

Oooops, I goofed on Versteeg, didn’t realize he was only a 5th rounder but looking at his Jr stats I can see why. Talk about your late-bloomers! Speaking of which, don’t the Leafs need help up the middle? How about swapping our late-bloomer (Peverley) with Bergy for Versteeg and some defensive help in the form of a big strapping Swede, Carl Gunnarsson? No need to give up a #1 for a guy who’s not even close to a #1 (Versteeg) if you’re gonna part ways with a former #1 in Bergfors.

Of course I’d feel a heckuva lot better about that deal if Slater wasn’t out with post-concussion syndrome. Get well soon Jimmah!

Smoothie

February 13th, 2011
11:47 am

Ottawa needs puck-moving help on the blueline and might be willing to entertain an offer involving Johnny Oduya, who is our most logical tradeable asset defensively. I wonder if they’d be willing to part with Michalek in that case since they seem pretty committed to a rebuild and youth movement? Apparently Chris Kelly is on the block as well and he’d look really good as our 3rd line C so Cormier can keep breaking himself in as a winger, although eventually I think he’s better suited to the pivot. But if Corms is playing LW and not Modin, I’m okay with it! Not sure I’d give up Oduya for just Kelly though. Kelly and Ruutu perhaps.

World Be Free

February 13th, 2011
12:33 pm

Smoothie-so good suggestions, I think Ottawa would take Johnny.
Versteeg gotta remember not only was he a late pick, but the Broones gave up on him too!

Darkhorse-you going to the game today?

LAC

February 13th, 2011
2:29 pm

Tonight we need to HIT Erik Cole ALL the time, he has caused Enough problems for Atlanta.

Hockey Biltong

February 13th, 2011
3:19 pm

WBF, see you there…
Saw the fixed game in TB last night. What a joke.

Darkhorse

February 13th, 2011
3:37 pm

WBF-No game for me today. Too much honey do list around the house(baby on the way) with the weather nice. Will be watching later though…

LAC-Cole kills us like the Expos used to kill the Braves in the early to mid-nineties. I hope we see a focus group of Thrashers out there today. Show some heart and grit guys!

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February 13th, 2011
4:44 pm

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Big Daddy (formerly waffleboy)

February 13th, 2011
4:54 pm

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=552605

Mario BLASTS the league after the suspensions are levied

Brendan

February 13th, 2011
5:00 pm

Red Light, it must have been amazing to see the Cup presented, live and in person. I’ve never been there, in the flesh. I usually record the Cup celebration, every year though.

WBF, exactly righ, re: rushing prospects into the NHL. I wonder when people will realize that it’s not as much of an achievement as it is an indictment to have players make your roster straight out of the draft, with the obvious exceptions for the players of their generation. Not only that, by waiting, you don’t start the RFA clocking ticking, either. And there’s far more value having a player at age 21 or 22, for the SAME MONEY, than at 19 or 20, when their 1st contract would begin. The egg doesn’t hatch the day its laid by the hen. It takes time to develop.

THE KISS

February 13th, 2011
7:22 pm

I AM THE KISS!!!

Thrashy Thrashy

February 13th, 2011
7:26 pm

Well, at least we know we can out-shoot a team two-to-one and lose it late.

LAC

February 13th, 2011
7:33 pm

Well I said cover Cole, we DID NOT and another LOSS. I don’t know what to say, They played last night, and were TIRED in the third, we stink on offense to High Heaven, There is NO future with this team, Friday was just a VERY Lucky win, look for no more than 3 more wins the rest of the season and we finish next to LAST in the confrence.

It is OVER !

Thrashy Thrashy

February 13th, 2011
7:53 pm

There may be no future for us as far as a playoff berth is concerned in 2010-11 (the results of the last 25 games are much more telling than the current point total…we just aren’t able to get it done right now and that shows no sign of changing), but we’ve got plenty of talented young guys who will get better. At least there’s that. If we had a bunch of Holiks and Zhitniks on the roster, I’d be willing to give up on the next season or five.

Brendan

February 13th, 2011
8:08 pm

Ranallo warning, to put this “gut punch” to bed???

Brendan

February 13th, 2011
8:18 pm

Thrashy Thrashy, I have here, the latest invention from Professor John Frinke, the “Atlanta Spirit, LLC translator machine.” And now, we just input the data. And press this button.

Alright the data’s loading … two great individual efforts by our Captain … lack of physical play … inability to finish checks … several goalposts … Cam Ward, red hot … lots of turnovers, still … lack of depth of scoring … trouble clearing the zone … and … a league minimum payroll as the trade deadline approaches.

It’s calculating … calculating … calculating. Annnnnd voila! Here we go.

“The Atlanta Thrashers continue to march steadfastly into the playoffs with another great game, where they outshot the opposition, 43-19, and outchanced them 19-7. Everything is super. And the ticket window is still open.”

Brendan

February 13th, 2011
8:24 pm

We’ve won just six out of the past twenty-three (6/23) games, right?

Smoothie

February 13th, 2011
8:46 pm

Going into tonite, a win would have been a huge momentum swing, but opportunity lost. From the dumb hi-sticking penalty resulting in a 4 min PK to the piss-poor coverage by the 4th line against Jiri freakin’ Tlusty, this team loses its focus at the worst times and often it results in costly goals (like giving up a goal at the end of the 2nd after dominating the previous 5 minutes) they cannot overcome. They need another scorer in the worst way, but the blueline is still struggling too often getting the puck out of the zone. However I will say that the support by the forwards (ahem, Kane, Stewy and Antro) must be better when playing against a trapping team that loves to pinch at the redline. You MUST GET THE PUCK DEEP before a line change. Had they won tonite, a record of 14-8-2 over the final 24 might have got it done. Now, with the 4 point swing, I think they’ll need 16-7-1 at the least to overcome the tie-breaker they’ll lose to Carolina for 8th. Very tall order indeed.

glovesave29

February 13th, 2011
8:48 pm

LAC – we had 43 shots on goal, that’s a pretty healthy total…c’mon – I hate to lose as much as anyone, but we got beaten by a hot goalie in a game we completely dominated. It sucks. It happens….

LAC

February 13th, 2011
8:53 pm

Cole has accounted for 6 points for them against just us and a trying goal last night to get them a point. 7 points he has cost us and we cover him like a dove. No after this showing it is painful to watch, and duds dudley continues to do nothing. We need to be SELLERS not buyers, because we have no chance at playoffs after this mess !

B. Thenet

February 13th, 2011
8:59 pm

So when exactly is this goalie coach of ours going to work on the high blocker with Pavelec?

I hope Pavelec mans up and takes full responsibility for this one, this is the kind of game Lehtonen would blame on bad bounces.