Distance between Thrashers and Lotterypickville getting shorter

Last night the Atlanta Thrashers were spared the indignity of dropping yet another rung on the NHL standings ladder. Had the New Jersey Devils continued their winning ways against the Ottawa Senator they would have jumped over the Thrashers and moved them down to 12th place in the Eastern Conference. It would have also left them with the 6th fewest points in the NHL standing…just one position out of being a lottery pick team in this summers draft.

Instead, the last place Senators edged the Devils 2-1 and the Thrashers remain in 11th place in the east and just two clicks north of Lotterypickville’s city limits. It’s a distance that has continued to shrink over the last few weeks as we’ve traveled down the road that is the second half of this NHL season.

Going into tonight’s game in Carolina, Atlanta remains seven points out of a possible playoff spot. And while some still cling to the ever-fading hopes that a playoff run is possible, the sad fact here is that there is a much greater chance that they’ll have the team’s logo affixed to one of the ping-pong balls to determine the exact order of the first five picks in this June’s draft.

Dustin Byfulgien, seen here in action against Jeff Skinner and the Hurricanes last February 13, will not play tonight in Carolina. It will be the first game he's missed all season (AJC photo/Curtis Compton)

Dustin Byfulgien, seen here in action against the Hurricanes Jeff Skinner last February 13, will not play tonight in Carolina. It will be the first game he's missed all season (AJC photo/Curtis Compton)

That’s because the Florida Panthers pulled to within two points of the Thrashers Tuesday night by snapping the Chicago Blackhawks eight-game winning streak with a 3-2 win. At the same time, the New York Islanders were knocking off the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime.

New York now is but three points behind Atlanta, however they have played two more games.

Had the Colorado Avalanche found a way to knock off the Minnesota Wild last night, instead of losing 5-2,then we’d be looking at only being just three points ahead of the 28th place team in the league. Or, as some would say, three points away from having at least a chance at winning the number-one overall pick.

All this means is that unless they can find a way to pull some points from tonight’s tilt with the Hurricanes, the NHL standings floor could continue to creep up a little closer. Yes, only seven points separates the Thrashers from a playoff position… but seven points in the opposite direction is a spot in the bottom three and a chance for the #1 overall pick in the draft.

The Canes go into tonight’s matchup only one point south of the eighth place Buffalo Sabres and three north of the tenth place Leafs, so they’re fighting to keep their place in the list of teams still legitimately in the race. They haven’t played since losing 5-2 to the Hawks Friday night.

The Thrashers will go into the game without defenseman Dustin Byfuglien for the first time this season. He didn’t even make the trip to Raleigh with the team yesterday and is listed with a “lower body injury” and is day to day. Buff took a shot during Saturday night’s overtime win over the Panthers and seemed to be in a serious amount of pain on the bench afterwards, although he was bale to continue.

That was a good thing too, because he tallied assists on three of the team’s four goals Saturday night, including setting up Andrew Ladd’s winner in overtime. He also had the primary assists on both of Blake Wheelers goals and finished the game with a +2 rating with 9 shots on goal.

Byfuglien remains second on the team in overall scoring. His 19 goals and 30 assists for 49 points is just one behind Ladd, who has 25 goals and 25 assists.

Having Buff out of the lineup certainly doesn’t help. But the rest of the lineup will have to find a way to deal with it…or the buffer between them and Lotterpickville will continue to erode away.

108 comments Add your comment

litz

March 10th, 2011
12:43 am

You should have listened to Kamal on the radio … he was absolutely scathing in his call of that Cole breakaway and goal. It was a no-holds-barred blasting of the defensive lapse that allowed it.

As for the Bieber thing … Ludacris+Usher+Bieber may well add up to enough cash to put forth a serious bid. Per Google, Ludacris and Bieber each have a net worth of around 65mil, and Usher around 110mil … and these are 2009/2010 figures. One would presume they have only added to those totals.

Presuming they can convert that total worth to cash, that more than exceeds the estimated 130-140mil value of the hockey club.

Other prominent Atlantans?

Anne Cox Chambers (AJC/WSB/Cox) – 13.4bil (a 91year old buying a hockey team?)
James Kennedy (AJC/WSB/Cox) – 6.3bil (he’s younger, could be a candidate)
S. Truett Cathy – 1.8bil (heck, they already drop Chick-Fil-A cows from the roof of Philips)
Bernie Marcus – 1.9bil (both Home Depot and the GA Aquarium are already major sponsors)
Arthur Blank – 1.5bil (maybe he wants to add frozen water to his fake grass?)

iceman suck

March 10th, 2011
12:53 am

He ice man. i wish we could trade you. Who gave you like job anyway? Go back to dickheadville

Smoothie

March 10th, 2011
12:53 am

Alan said “taint”, heh heh hehheh

LAC

March 10th, 2011
12:56 am

Anaheim 5-2, which helps us a little.

Cornbread

March 10th, 2011
1:55 am

“Now, now, don’t be upset at me because your boy wonder Enstrom crapped the bed defensively again, he’s awful against the rush, always has been.”

I going to completely disagree with this one. Enstrom is not a physical threat in front of his own net and he drives me crazy when he has a clear shot and passes instead of pulling the trigger, but to suggest that he “is and always has been awful against the rush” is just wrong. There is no one else on D for the Thrashers that I’d rather see one on one then Enstrom. Did he get beat tonight? Yeah so what it happens to the best of them including Lidstrom. He has bailed out his team far more often then letting one slip by.

Cornbread

March 10th, 2011
2:04 am

I do not believe the Thrashers played their best tonight. In fact, I believe it is the worst they have played against the Canes this year. Still, they found a way to win. That is the difference from January and February when they played much better in most of the games that they lost. Frustrating but that’s the way it is. Let’s hope they find ways to win in all their remaining games. It’s their only chance.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 10th, 2011
5:19 am

I agree with Mr. Murphy that it was a normal hockey play (albeit interference)…had Chara pushed the player one stride later, Pacioretty is perfectly fine and pursuing a retaliatory slash against Chara. I saw no malice in the hit, I simply saw a bad and unfortunate injury on a very typical hockey play. Thus, I agree that Chara didn’t deserve any further punishment.

A still frame from the wrong side of the situation doesn’t sway my opinion, because you can watch an HD replay on YouTube from the opposite side of the play (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBEaY_k8pMA&hd=1 — 1:00 mark) or from the front of the play (1:23 mark) and see Chara pushing the arm and shoulder (and not riding the face). I consider it a typical hockey play, aka a rub out…happens every game, in almost every league of organized hockey.

All that being said, I hope the best for Pacioretty. I wouldn’t wish that injury on anybody, even Matt Cooke or Chris Pronger.

Rawhide

March 10th, 2011
6:49 am

Good morning Thrasherville…here’s a new blog to continue discussing last night’s nice win in Carolina. It was the first time they’ve been able to win back-to-back games since just after New Years.