Last Wednesday night I was sitting in the Taco Mac on Highway 92 near King Road in Roswell. My friend Tom Ferda and I were viewing the game being played in Carolina that night on the HUGE TV screen located on the back wall…those who have been in that establishment know what I’m speaking of.
Anyway…as we were breaking bread together and preparing for the puck to drop, he commented that he truly felt this team still had a run in them. I came up from one of my hot wings long enough to respond, “Who…what? Which team are you talking about, the Thrashers or Canes?”
Tom insisted he was indeed referring to our Atlanta Thrashers.
“Look”, I said while picking up the last chicken wing. “The Thrashers playoff hopes are kinda like these plate of wings here”. I then gobbled it up and tossed the bone into the basket. “They’re finished.”
Wiping my hands on a napkin…or the back of a hoodie belonging to the kid sitting beside of us, I can’t remember which…I then continued, “The only ‘run’ that might be found in this Thrashers organization this season would be found on the back of one of the Blue Crew’s stockings.”
“However”, I added, “Seeing that they actually won last Saturday, if they can rattle off something like 5 or 6 points against the Hurricanes, Devils and Flyers these next three games…then come talk to me.”
OK… well I guess it’s time to talk.
Following Saturday night’s thrilling come-from-behind win in Philadelphia…one that saw the Thrashers overcome a 3-0 deficit after two periods, a 3-1 and 4-2 disadvantage deep into the third, only to then win it 5-4 in OT…they now find themselves only four points out of a playoff spot. It was their fourth overtime game in a row, but they have won three of them.
For those who might be concerned about giving away yet another overtime consolation point to an Eastern Conference foe…don’t be. I mean, it’s not like we’re going to catch the Flyers anyway. All that matters is the all-important two points procured in the standing.
The way I’m looking at things now, if the Thrashers are going to qualify for this spring’s Great Hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup…good Lord, I don’t believe I’m even saying this…Atlanta is going to do so only if they’re able to squeeze into one of the last couple of spots. Philly, Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa Bay, Boston and Montreal should occupy spots one through six, mixed and matched in various possible orders. That leaves the bottom two spot, currently occupied by the Rangers and Buffalo, to be contested for.
To put it in a different light, no longer look at the Thrashers in the Southeast Division…instead view them as a part of the newly formed six-team “Squeeze-In” Division. The top two finishers in this division get into the playoffs.
Those in the “SID” are the New York Rangers, Buffalo, Carolina, Toronto the Thrashers and New Jersey.
After Toronto’s 4-3 win over Buffalo and the Rangers shootout win in San Jose, New York leads the SID with 76 points and the Sabres are second at 74. Carolina, who were knocked off by Columbus at home, remains at 72.
Then you find both the Thrashers and Maple Leafs sitting at 70 points apiece. After that with 68 points are the Devils, who Saturday night won again in overtime…this time on Long Island.
Buffalo takes Ottawa today and the Leafs will host Tampa Bay Monday. On Tuesday Atlanta is in New Jersey, the Rangers take on the Islanders while Carolina goes to Buffalo.
Atlanta has earned 7 of a possible 8 points in the last week to claw themselves back to this level, and with 13 games left on the schedule they’ll still need somewhat of a miracle finish if they are to play beyond the mandatory 82 on the schedule. Things won’t be getting any easier for the Thrashers either as they are looking at heading to New Jersey Tuesday night, welcoming in Philadelphia on Thursday before shuffling off to Buffalo on Saturday.
So will the Thrashers actually make a run at the playoffs during the last month of the season? Eh…talk to me this time next week.
A great idea to honor an honorable man, T. R. Benning Jr
As you all have certainly heard by now, T. R. Benning Jr passed away last Thursday at the age of 89. Mr. Benning was the gentleman seen so many times on the Kiss Cam with his lovely wife Maria. The two were honored last spring with the Thrashers 7th Fan Award.
I was told last night while viewing the game at TJs Sports Bar & Grill that someone had come up with the idea to name the 7th Fan Award in honor of Mr. Benning…call it, maybe, “The T.J. Benning Jr Memorial 7th Fan Award”.
I don’t know who was the one who first thought of this, but I can think of no better way to honor a man who we all came to admire so much. It would also be a wonderful way to honor Mr. Benning for his service to this country during WWII.
Mr. Benning was a part of the 254th Engineer Combat Battalion stationed out of Newquay, Cornwall, England in the days and months leading up to the Normandy invasion. On 7-June, 1944, D-Day + 1, he commanded the 3rd Platoon Company B of that Battalion as they came ashore on the Beaches of Normandy, France. While on patrol, he was wounded and evacuated to an army hospital back in England. However, by November of that year he was back in action. He took over command of the 2nd platoon of Company B while in the Ardennes Mountains of Belgium and saw action during the Battle of the Bulge.
Mr. Benning came back from Europe with a purple heart and his first wife, Loretta Margaret Serey, whom he met while recovering from his wounds. She passed away many years ago.
The T.J. Benning Jr Memorial 7th Fan Award…a great idea that I would love see made happen by the Thrashers organization.
And finally…Thank yous and shout outs
I would like to thank each and every one of you who came out to TJs last night to watch the Thrashers beat Philadelphia. A double-special thank you as well for all of the food items that were brought out by you to help the Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club provide much needed help to keep Atlanta area food banks stocked for those less fortunate. John Mikalonis of the ATFC did a great job organizing this event and he’s to be commended for his work.
Well done, John!
In addition, a big, heart-felt shout out to Tim Ecclestone and his fantastic staff for doing their usual bang up job. Also, for those of you who attended a similar event at Rafferty’s in Kennesaw and donated there…thank you so very much as well.
I would also like to add just how much fun I had Friday night, despite the less-than-desirable results against the Devils. I had the pleasure of spending that game with my good friends and frequent contributors of this online forum World Be Free, his daughter, FormerIslesFan, Smoothy, Red Light and Badger Bob. We were honored by the presence of Ms. Audra Martin, and also joining us in section 107 was our friend Amy.
Oh, and Amy is going to have to chime in and share her thoughts on a new idea regarding overtime and penalties. Either that, or I’m just going to have to tell you all myself and claim the credit for it.
Lastly, as we all were gathering out in front of the will-call window of Philips Arena, we were joined in conversation by another frequenter of this blog, litz. It was indeed an honor to make his acquaintance as well.