Advice for Thrashers ailing offense comes at right Price

Allow me to take you back in time a month or so ago. Like the other 29 NHL teams, the Atlanta Thrashers were coming off the All Star Game break and preparing to begin the latter stages of the current hockey campaign. At the time the Thrashers were 24-19-9, coming off a 1-0 win over the Capitals prior to the break and sitting comfortably in a playoff position.

There were troubling signs, however, for the team. As has been the case for so many years they were giving up far more shots then they were taking themselves and this imbalance was pointed to by many as a major cause for concern.

Now with all that in mind, if I were to have told you back then that Thrashers would go on to outshoot their opponents by a combined margin of +91 SOG over the course of the next 12 games…an average of 36.4 S/G to 28.8 SA/G…what would you think the their record would be during those games?

Montreal goalie Carey Price saves a shot from Thrashers defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. It was one of 40 saves made by Price in the 3-1 win over Atlanta...most of which came from a distance that made life easy for him (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Montreal goalie Carey Price saves a shot from Thrashers defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. It was one of 40 saves made by Price in the 3-1 win over Atlanta...most of which came from a distance that made life easy for him (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

10-1-1?

8-4-0?

7-3-2?

Maybe 6-5-1?

Nope…try 2-8-2.

Even though they have found a way to play better overall defense, move the attack forward and out-shooting the opposition by a total of 437-346, they have been outscored by a total of 41-27 over the last dozen games… 42-27 if you count the gimmick shootout point awarded to Florida last Friday.

In the last four games alone they have taken 171 shots and have exactly 6 goals to show for it. Three came in the overtime win over Toronto last Sunday.

So, what’s the cause of the Thrashers scoring woes even though they seem to be getting pucks on net? Well, maybe Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price may just have an answer to that question.

“It was busy out there, but it wasn’t a lot of hard shots”, Carey said after stopping 40 of 41 SOG during the Habs 3-1 win in Philips Arena Tuesday night. “We kept most of the shots outside”.

“It’s not hard to stop 40 shots when they are from the outside.”

It’s not often a team can get a little free advice from an opponent, and this little piece of 411 came at the right…ahem…price for the Thrashers brain trust. Free. So I’m thinking that maybe the equipment manager can tape Price’s quote up in each player’s locker at the practice facility in Duluth as well as down at Philips.

Heck, maybe even affix it to the wall nearest coach Ramsay’s desk.

A Big ‘Thank You’ From Me to You

I received an e-mail from my online editor last night informing me of the heavy traffic that happened on this little blog-thingy last month. It seems we set an all-time high for page views in February, breaking the recent high mark by right at a 40% increase. The previous high-water mark was set just last December.

One of the main reasons why we continue to see such increasing numbers around here has to do with the great conversation and debate that goes on in the comment section below. I’ve always said that the main reason people hit this site has hard and frequent as Rosie O’Donnell does an open buffet has more to do with what happens down there then it does anything I opine about up here.

And because of that, I can only say thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for making this online forum what it is. So reach around and give yourselves a big pat on the back today.

Thrashers Viewing Party At TJs

To show my appreciation for your patronage here, I’d like to invite you all out to TJs Bar & Grill in Alpharetta for a viewing party on Saturday night March 12th. The Thrashers will be in Philadelphia that night to take on the Flyers and the puck drops at 7:00 pm.

Tim Ecclestone…former Atlanta Flame forward and owner of TJs…has been asking me for quite some time to do this and, given the personal schedule I’ve been keeping with my family, this is really the only time I’ll have all year to do it.

The Thrashers ticket and marketing department will also be supplying me with a few signed Thrashers items…including a full size stick autographed by Dustin Byfuglien, a mini-helmet signed by Andrew Ladd as well pucks signed by Toby Enstrom and Alex Burmistrov.

Also, my friends at the Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club will be out there as well and John Mikalonis of the Fan Club told me this week that they will hold raffles during each intermission.

In addition to that, John informed me that they will be accepting donations that night to help stock the shelves of Atlanta area food banks. The Fan Club has been involved with many charitable events throughout Thrasherville and many people have benefited from their efforts. Those bringing 5 food items will be given a special raffle ticket for a prize to be determined later. There is no limit, so the more items you bring, the more tickets you’ll receive and the better your chances of winning.

“In these hard economic times, many children and families are going hungry”, John told me earlier this week. “The food banks are running extremely low and cannot help the daily amount of people who are truly in need of food to feed their families.”

“After the holidays many of these food banks run on the bare minimum and many are turned away. Every little bit helps.”

Suggested items to be donated are canned meats including tuna, beef, stews, chicken, chili, Spam, peanut butter and jelly, canned fruits, canned soups, canned vegetables, juice, dry pasta, rice, or beans, cereal, baby food/formula, and any non-perishable item. But no glass containers please.

So if you plan on attending, please load up with as much as you can to help those families in our community that are in need.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you there.

139 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

March 2nd, 2011
2:02 pm

Alan R.

March 2nd, 2011
2:10 pm

Good stuff, Bill, as always!

Darren

March 2nd, 2011
2:20 pm

Thank YOU, Bill. Your mix of insightful, thoughtful, entertaining posts are very much appreciated.

I only saw the last 10 minutes of the game, but there’s simply no excuse for the team not to play like that for the full 60.

Also, notice the blatantly obvious difference in the offensive chances that result when they skate the puck into the zone versus when they dump and chase. This game was another example. They skated the puck in the Montreal zone over and over again, and simply dominated possession and the quality of scoring chances (the one breakaway notwithstanding).

For the most part, dumping the puck should only be done on the penalty kill or to get a change. Dump and chase is not an effective offensive strategy. You voluntarily give up possession of the puck in HOPES that you can somehow reacquire possession deeper in the zone. Makes zero sense. You usually just give the other team a chance to pick up a loose puck and create a rush of their own.

Take the Edmonton game as a perfect example. Up two goals, on the power play (a situation where you should NEVER, EVER dump and chase, in my opinion), they dump it, Edmonton draws a penalty, negates the power play, then draws a second penalty 4 on 4, and Atlanta loses the game. Inexcusable.

Red Light

March 2nd, 2011
2:21 pm

If you shoot the puck, somebody needs to be available for rebounds! Cue 22, 26, 16, 80, 9, 27, 36, etc.

New suitor for the Dallas Stars?

http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/38764-Source-Dallas-oilman-Douglas-Miller-makes-offer-to-purchase-Stars.html

Dwayne

March 2nd, 2011
2:24 pm

Bronze….and thank you Bill!!!

Dwayne

March 2nd, 2011
2:25 pm

ooops, no soup for me

ZAvalanche

March 2nd, 2011
2:26 pm

@ Rawhide, LOL on the Rosie O’Donnell comment, that is classic. Wish I could join you all at TJs, pretty fun place, and I guarantee many of my old colleagues from Holcomb Bridge MS will be there.

Shots on goal – right on the mark, we have nobody in front of the keeper to pick up rebounds or screen. Crucial as every goalie in the league can stop a shot from 30 feet out if they see it the whole way.

Congrats on the traffic Rawhide, further proof that this blog is damn good and heck of a lot of fun.

Tom

March 2nd, 2011
2:44 pm

Bill, I agree the comments are great here, but you are also an amazing MC and host for all of us.

Your ability to keep posts coming on interesting and provocative topics is appreciated and the glue that keeps this guy coming back for more.

Matt

March 2nd, 2011
2:50 pm

reading this makes me think back to all the people that would be yelling “SHOOT THE PUCK” just because a player was open. A lot of fans looked at it like basketball and assumed and open guy meant they should shoot.

Well, NOW the Thrash are shooting way too much and aren’t getting the puck down low. That’s where goals happen, in front of the crease.

There’s just very little talent on this Thrashers offense. I was watching LA/Detroit on Vs. the other night and I remarked (to no one) that LA’s offense features Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Ryan Smyth, Alex Ponikorovsky, and now Dustin Penner. They’re barely clinging to the 8th playoff spot and any one of those guys is as good (if not better) than any of our best forwards.

Sorry, but we need a real NHL offense here. Dvorak helps the penalty kill and we needed help in that department badly, but he’s a good piece, not a difference maker on the scoresheet.

It’s a shame I won’t be able to go to TJ’s, that would be fun, but I’m heading to Florida for Spring Training that weekend.

40yrs

March 2nd, 2011
2:52 pm

I don’t think the Thrashers have ever put anyone in front of the net. I remember Little’s first season after he was called buck up. He would go to corner dig the puck out and pass it to the front of the net. the result would be a turnover. I felt sorry for him. I took him about 10 games to learn not to do what he had been taught his whole life.

Hockey Biltong

March 2nd, 2011
3:00 pm

Gold!
Silver!
Bronze!
Unobtainium!

Tom Lysiak

March 2nd, 2011
3:06 pm

““It’s not hard to stop 40 shots when they are from the outside.”

Hopefully Mason reads this too.

Brendan

March 2nd, 2011
3:09 pm

Now with all that in mind, if I were to have told you back then that Thrashers would go on to outshoot their opponents by a combined margin of +91 SOG over the course of the next 12 games…an average of 36.4 S/G to 28.8 SA/G…what would you think the their record would be during those games?

I would have said 7-3-2, choice # 3. It’s disappointing, that’s for sure. We had injuries to Enstrom, Slater, Pavelec. Our strategy, perhaps, is a bit flawed. Or we just don’t have the horses to run it, the way Ramsay would want.

And, of course, all that would have changed … if we’d only kept Alex Bourret, the human lightning rod. Bygones. (Why is my sarcasm detector exploding?)

Brendan

March 2nd, 2011
3:10 pm

@ Tom Lysiak, I rather enjoyed that post, at 3:06 PM.

Russian

March 2nd, 2011
3:14 pm

After last night Game I am ready to get Lottery for Thrashers. WE are 24-th now and I hope they can go down and try to get 1-3 pick.

Smoothie

March 2nd, 2011
3:15 pm

Advice for thrashres: stop being wusses and GO TO THE NET!!!

That is all.

PS – until you grow some sack, I will continue to call u thrashres

Tom Lysiak

March 2nd, 2011
3:22 pm

Thanks Brendan. That first goal was ridiculous. I could have stopped that one. But, in the interest of fairness, I probably provide more square-inch net coverage than Mason does…..

Hoof Arted

March 2nd, 2011
3:28 pm

The BlogMaster sets ‘em up and we just knocks ‘em down.

This is the……

Best

Thrashers

Blog

Ever!

Tom

March 2nd, 2011
3:37 pm

Interesting quote from a Montreal paper about the Thrasher’s ice.

“It was bad ice out there and you’re just trying to get pucks to the net,” added Pacioretty, who led the Canadiens with four shots on goal. “I didn’t bury my good chances so I’ll take that one. Gomer and (Brian Gionta) were both in front of the net and that’s how we’re going to be successful here, getting pucks and bodies to the net.”

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/Offensive+game+sloppy+Camalleri+says/4370239/story.html

We try to play an uptempo game predicated on crisp passing on one of the worst ice surfaces in the league… Something just does not make sense.,,

Darren

March 2nd, 2011
3:40 pm

Tom, there’s ultimately no excuse for it, but didn’t the circus just leave town (ha ha.. no, really?).

They always have to re-do the ice when that happens, and it usually takes it a while to recover after that. Could be wrong though.

Thomas magnum

March 2nd, 2011
3:47 pm

Price s basically saying that the thrashers might shoot a lot but not quality shots. We need to get some one in the crease. How about putting Buff at center too?!?

Thomas magnum

March 2nd, 2011
3:48 pm

Uhmmm I mean Buff at forward…

Alan R.

March 2nd, 2011
3:50 pm

Darren – Vivlamore posted Friday that the ice laid down after the circus is a fresh sheet.

Smoothie

March 2nd, 2011
4:00 pm

If that ice surface was bad, then there’s no hope for a good surface in that bldg. The circus has been gone for weeks and the Hawks have been on a road trip since the All-Star game. It’s been all hockey for nearly 2 weeks straight. It was as cold in that bldg last nite as I can ever remember (prolly cuz there were only 7,000 ppl there) and yet guys are still complaining about the ice surface. I guess we don’t pay enough to get a good ice crew in Atlanta like the one led by the guy who always gets the call for the outdoor games and such. Then again, there are a lot of bad ice surfaces throughout the league, and not just in the SE.

jimbo

March 2nd, 2011
4:00 pm

SOG on goal are not a key determinant of success. It’s legitimate scoring chances and we fall short without forwards who position themselves in front of goalies. We’ve never really had that one body who created confusion around the net and batted in rebounds. Wheeler looks like a candidate but Antro. and Stewart for all their size seem reluctant to muck it up around the net. D-Buff is a guy who has proven to be very effective in front of the goalie by old CLUELESS CRAIG seems reluctant to try any new strategies or approaches. THE GUY IS TERMINALLY CLUELESS.

Matt from MN

March 2nd, 2011
4:02 pm

Shoot the puck closer to the net!!

Screen the goalie!!

Waaaaayyyyy to many soft, outside shots. I read that quote from Mr. Price and was thinking the exact same thing, Rawhide. Now let’s see if anyone puts this “classified info” into action.

drajax

March 2nd, 2011
4:04 pm

Price was right. The team rarely shot from the middle of the ice and although at times there was a Thrasher in front of the net most of the shots were coming from the left side of the rink to Price’s right side. Why? Where’s the coaching?
Another observation: Oduya was manhandled by the Canadians. I wonder if he has the strength to make it in the league. Stapleton appears to be small enough to evade the heavy checking the Canadians dish out and is quick. I’d hope we give him a longer look.

ThrasherTim

March 2nd, 2011
4:10 pm

The Thrashers have to go 13-5 to get to the 89 point mark which seems to be the magic number….oh, and we play Philly and NJ 5 more times. Doesn’t seem too likely given the current scoring woes.

I’m not sure what game I was watching but I thought we controlled the puck and play and Price was the difference. As far as him saying the chances were from outside, I’m not sure I agree with that either. He stopped Stapelton on a break-away….Antropov had a great chance that went under his arm and past him out the side. He stopped Thorburn right in front of the net all alone. Stewart rocketed a chance that he grazed, pushing it outside. Kaner missed the net with less than a minute left. Meanwhile, Montreal cycled the puck once or twice all game. Oh well.

Smoothie

March 2nd, 2011
4:16 pm

Kaner’s had some choice looks that I’m sure he’d love to have back, but you’d think by now he’d be a little more adept at shooting somewhere other than the goalie’s belly or pads (5 hole). Perhaps he’s so banged up that he’s not really getting much on his shots. They need to move him to RW and Wheeler to LW and let them use their speed to cut to the middle and drive the net. This natural wing bull crap needs to stop.

glovesave29

March 2nd, 2011
4:20 pm

First of all, I gotta disagree with Darren. Although I prefer an intricate passing offense to a dump and chase, you need to use that style for several reasons…you cannot be predictable and enter the zone the same way every time, and if the D is playing a trap – the dump is the best way to gain the zone.

I would like to add to the “bag of goodies” to be given away at TJ’s on the 12th. I have a signed photo of Gordie Howe spraying a Rangers goalie with ice. I got it years ago directly from the Howe foundation with a box of other signed items for a charity auction for Huntington’s Disease. This will go to the person who brings the most canned items for charity. I challenge the rest of the regular crew here to dig into your collections and make some items available to those who show some charity.

Go Thrash!

POM-POM

Alan R.

March 2nd, 2011
4:26 pm

Then again, there are a lot of bad ice surfaces throughout the league, and not just in the SE.

I remember Washington’s ice being voted the worst. Several times over.

m

March 2nd, 2011
4:26 pm

did i miss the all star game from two months ago? last i remember it took place january 30…

Mr. Heat Miser

March 2nd, 2011
4:27 pm

Getting real tired of not getting fair officiating when playing Canadian teams. The number of no-calls and blown-calls the last two games have been staggering. Sat on the 5th row behind Price for the second period last night and watched the Habs hold and slash like it was a free for all.
POM-POM

Rawhide

March 2nd, 2011
4:37 pm

m – Yes…the ASG was on 1/30, which is just over 1 month ago. Post has been corrected.

glovesave – That is very generous of you indeed, thanks! POM-POM!

Mr. Heat Miser – I normally do not like to cast blame on the officiating crew for Thrashers losses. But I must agree with you that there were some e-GEEE-gious no calls that should have gone against the Habs…shrugs

Gotta still play through ‘em though. POM-POM back at ya!

glovesave29

March 2nd, 2011
4:37 pm

Agreed HM…watched a player complete send Thorburn upside down against the Panthers…and I am still POed about the high stick goal against the Coyotes. Yeah, not Canadian teams – but monumentally bad calls nonetheless. I can think of the TERRIBLE “charging” call Antro got against Army and the Laffs. Was barely even a solid check! When are they going to start enforcing the rules enacted to open the game up after the lock-out?

SomaAtl95

March 2nd, 2011
4:38 pm

The Habs held so much last night they could have at least offered to buy the Thrashers a drink!

SomaAtl95

March 2nd, 2011
4:40 pm

Lets not forget the “Phantom” Cross Check called on Buff at the end of the PHX game! He was so ticked off he was bright red while arguing his case, and replay showed Buff with nobody around him.

Smoothie

March 2nd, 2011
4:53 pm

Refs have sucked all year, but you gotta convert chances when they come around and we don’t, period. Our PP sucks and until Ramsay allows these guys to tap into some buried creativity (stop passing to Buff by default!!), then we will continue to go 0 for 5 or 0 for 6. Of course, just learning how to enter the damn zone without having to dump the puck and exhaust themselves retrieving it might be a good start. Also, a formation such as this might actually make more sense:

Left point: Bryan Little (played it in JR and he takes good care of the puck)

Right point: Toby Enstrom (big fat DUH, see last 3 years)

Right wall: Nik Antropov (stop wasting him on the wrong side and let him see the middle of the ice on his “off” wing)

Right corner and behind net: Evander Kane (kid has the speed and the balls to walk the line and go hard to the net)

Rover / Goalie Eclipse: Big Buff (as if I had to tell you that)

Just watch the goals pour forth like manna from the heavens!! ;)

kj

March 2nd, 2011
5:08 pm

Smoothie: right on about the PP. Change it up/change the luck GET BUFF IN FRONT OF THE NET! (he’s been a bit less of a Puff lately too).

And Bogo? He’s played last night like he was disappointed he wasn’t traded after the effort he gave the night before the deadline!

Smoothie

March 2nd, 2011
5:20 pm

I think he feels like his days are numbered as he’s the best bargaining chip we have this summer. Prolly a bad move to trade him but we have too much $ tied up in Buff now.

gnomeboy

March 2nd, 2011
5:21 pm

Thrashers Fan club..what a joke.

Tom Lysiak

March 2nd, 2011
5:22 pm

Still chuckling over the Thrashers email from today. Thursday is going to be “Big Buff Night” against Ottawa. Lower level seats are $33, plus it also includes unlimited popcorn and soda. Great deal, but are they trying to say something????

ben

March 2nd, 2011
5:27 pm

here’s a story out of ‘Pegg that REGINA, SK is building an arena in hopes of getting an NHL team. These people are crazy if they think that Regina gets a team. On another front, it looks like if the Goldwater Institute gets their way with the possible lawsuit, the ‘Yotes migt have to move whether they go to Canada or not.

So here’s my question. Is there anywhere in the U. S. the ‘Yotes could move to? Vegas seems like a big problem for any pro team as they are a town mainly of transients. Which brings me to where I think they ought to go, TORONTO! Why? Give the Toronto media another team to follow, and I bet that once you put the Isles in Quebec City, all the relocation nonsense goes away. I swear, all this is just griping that gets fanned by a media which is tried to death of following a crappy team which under performs year-in-and-out.

Joe McGrath

March 2nd, 2011
5:35 pm

Thrashers have THE worst GAA in the EC, and the 3rd worse GAA in the league. I know our defense has been paltry, but I’m starting to think maybe Dudley should have been looking at the goalie market Monday.

Acer

March 2nd, 2011
5:39 pm

Honestly, I do see a viable location in the US for the Coyotes. Houston or Kansas City have facilities but will they work? Give Winnipeg back it’s team when bad comes to worse.

Acer

March 2nd, 2011
5:40 pm

*I don’t see* damn spelling.

glovesave29

March 2nd, 2011
6:05 pm

Awww c’mon…have we not beat this subject to death already? Let’s talk about hockey. If something changes with regards to teams moving, we can address it then…agreed?

POM POM

ben

March 2nd, 2011
6:34 pm

i’m just saying glovesave29, that I don’t think the team is going anywhere out of the metro area. and i think that if a team was put in toronto, then this crap would go away.

as for talking hockey i like the moves duds did bergie needed to go. i feel that the budget will increase next year or the year after as new ownership is brought in. i also feel that we won’t make the playoffs, so we play for the draft.

this team needs a legit scorer and a dman to shutdown the opponents other than buff. but this is a nice core, it just needs a couple of pieces one might get on the fa market.

EA

March 2nd, 2011
6:59 pm

Crash the net. Crosby gets so many of his goals that way (when he is healthy).

eugene

March 2nd, 2011
7:00 pm

The Thrashers had a lot of good chances against Price but they were always a step out of position, or they’d shoot wide on an empty net. The problem isn’t the shooting outside, the problem with the Thrashers is they’re holding their sticks too tight and they’re not properly screening the goalie. Also, the players need to trust each other a little more. I noticed at yesterday’s game several players were doing the job of other players instead of concentrating on their own duties. Because of that, when there was a turnover in the middle of the ice, there wasn’t a single Thrasher in position to take advantage of that turnover because you had 2 guys covering a single player. I think the team’s effort the past 2 games is a whole lot better than what I’ve seen all season. The effort is there, and they’re battling hard, I can say I’m proud of their effort, If they keep this up, they’ll make the playoffs.