Thrashers and Devils look to remain in playoff conversation

When the Atlanta Thrashers take on the Devils up in New Jersey tonight, both teams will be looking to keep themselves within mentioning distance of the eighth and final playoff spot. Currently the Thrashers are tied with the Toronto Maple Leaves at 70 points…thanks to the Lightning’s 6-2 win in Toronto last night. Both trail the ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes by two points and the Rangers and Sabres, who occupy the last two postseason slots, by six.

Atlanta does have one more game remaining than do the Leafs and the Devils will be looking to move into a three-way tie.

Even with their current winning ways, New Jersey has had a tough time making up ground in the race recently. Even though they’ve gone 7-2 in their past nine games, they have only been able to go from 10 points out of a playoff spot to 8 in that time.

Ondrej Pavelec leaves the scene as Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias celebrate with Travis Zajac after his overtime game-winner last Friday. The two teams will go at it again Tuesday night in a battle to remain in the playoff discussion (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Ondrej Pavelec leaves the scene as Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias celebrate with Travis Zajac after his overtime game-winner last Friday. The two teams will go at it again Tuesday night in a battle to remain in the playoff discussion (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

For their part, the Thrashers have netted 7 of a possible 8 points during their last four games…all of which have required overtime to settle. The lone loss during that time came last Friday when Travis Zajac’s OT tally allowed the Devils to escape Atlanta with two points.

But both they and the Thrashers know that procuring these important 2 points is vital.

Consider that on top of all the other games involving teams close to these two teams in the standings, the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes are paired up with each other tonight while the Canes will host the Maple Leafs tomorrow evening. So there are going to be points doled to those we are competing with to remain viable playoff contenders.

We can only hope that those games don’t require overtime.

Because of that, winning tonight doesn’t guarantee climbing a notch on the playoff ladder…it’ll simply keep them in the discussion. But losing, especially in regulation, will deal one of these two teams a serious blow to their chances.

“We have to win”, defenseman Ron Hainsey stated regarding the Thrashers situation. “The position we’re in, we have to win a large majority, probably .800. If we get a stretch where we don’t get wins in two or three in a row, that’ll probably be the end of us.”

“As long as we keep winning, we’ll be in the conversation.”

Following tonight’s battle with the Devils, the Thrashers will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the Flyers in town. One can expect they’ll have the events of last Saturday night still in mind as they pay Thrasherville a call and will look to exact a certain measure of revenge.

Then it’ll be off to Buffalo for a tilt with the Sabres before a four day break between games.

Whether or not the Thrashers will still be mentioned then on the NHL talking heads shows when they break down the playoff picture will depend a lot on how they do this week.

93 comments Add your comment

BLUELANDbeliever

March 15th, 2011
12:12 pm

REG WIN. Stop giving out points. If we win i shall fist pump for 5 consecutive minutes.

CONTEST IDEA: Give us your best Jersey Shore names for the boys before faceoff tonight….

Kane= E-Train, Ladd= Hard Hat, Boulton= E-Muscle, Wheeler= The Operation, Little= B-Gel, Antropov= The Body, Pavelec= Juice Box, Mason= The Blowout, Thorburn= The Impact (or just Thor), Stewart= Stewie, Burmistrov= The Condition (or Burmie), Schremp= The Hands Team (or Robbie), Bogosian= The Bicep, Welch= Grape Juice, Oduya= Natural Light

World Be Free

March 15th, 2011
12:15 pm

Thrashers-don’t try and pass the puck throuigh the neutral zone, this is New Jersey!
Dump and chase on this immoble defensive corps, pressure and force turnovers. Thanks for a honest forecheck duruing the 2nd period of Friday night’s game-remember when we had sustained pressure?

Learn to kill penalites against 5 forwards-send 1 player out over the blueline and make the point men turn around, get them off their designed plays.

Stan Drulia

March 15th, 2011
12:16 pm

For the sixth or seventh time in the past month or so… I think this game is the one – we win we still have a shot at playoffs…. but we lose, and it’s over. Must admit, that Philly win completely re-energized my hopes and enthusiasm… but a loss tonite could dash them right back into the gutter.

GO THRASHERS!!!

tonyb

March 15th, 2011
12:24 pm

To make playoffs, Thrashers are going to have to win 85 percent of games. 91 Points will probably do it, but that means the team has very little margin of error. Its going to take a major hot streak, which we have not seen from this team in the second half of year.

Ray

March 15th, 2011
12:28 pm

Don’t take stupid penalties, especially in our offensive zone. The penalty kill is a well deserved 30th in the League for a reason so they have to stay out of the box to win.

World Be Free

March 15th, 2011
12:37 pm

Sounds like we are all hoping, but preparing ourselves for the worst.

Sage of Bluesland

March 15th, 2011
12:48 pm

Please, more!!!

Sage of Bluesland

March 15th, 2011
12:51 pm

(Still laughing at some comments…I’m sure more are to come!)

Humor is a good thing in Thrashersland…Compared to Don Waddell and his incompetence, anything is…

Not Blind

March 15th, 2011
1:01 pm

Run over Kovalpuke everytime he handles the puck. Maybe Malarchuk will give some more ‘head coach like’ inspirational speeches.

Ty Domi

March 15th, 2011
1:03 pm

Anybody have a water bottle I can borrow? SOB needs a good hosing.

cliff

March 15th, 2011
1:07 pm

Cliff Fletcher

March 15th, 2011
1:09 pm

ty-

make sure the good hosing water comes out an unflushed toilet. still don’t know why the sage of turdville hangs around recanting the same old stuff.

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
1:10 pm

Good luck tonight Thrashy, I will be watching you while enjoying some cool-aid at the local establishment.

Dwayne

March 15th, 2011
1:15 pm

Sage of Turdland…..that’s funny…

LAC

March 15th, 2011
1:16 pm

Let’s hope for a regulation win, not a three pointer either way.

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
1:17 pm

Ulf Samuelsson just called, he is still mad at Ty.

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
1:18 pm

LAC – agreed. I don’t mind 3 point games (as long as we get 2) to teams that are either already definitely in the playoffs or in the western conference, but definitely not to teams vying for a spot.

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
1:23 pm

You have to agree that as much as Domi was an idiot, he was fun as hell to watch and some of his actions were down-right hilarious! Dude could throw down though. He is the only reason I watched the Maple Laughs.

Hoof Arted

March 15th, 2011
1:23 pm

SOB only laughs at our comments because he’s got nothing intelligent to offer up on his own. Sure, he’s got the whole “Don Waddell and the Atlanta Spirit is the root of all things evil in Thrasherville” schtick, but not much else after that.

What SOB fails to understand though is that we all already know that and most have for some time. But, unlike him, we can still discuss hockey and root for our team dispite knowing that. He’s just a mindless troll with nothing to add so he laughs at others who do.

As for tonight, I just want to see more of what we witnessed after the second intermission Saturday night. Maybe Clint Malarchuk can give the pregame pep talk?

Red Light

March 15th, 2011
1:28 pm

Any playoff conversation for either of these two teams are mere whispers at this point. Both have to earn at least 16 to 18 points to remain in the discussion.

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
1:34 pm

RL – yes, they need to make a ridiculous run to get in. Can it happen? Yes. Is it probable? Don’t bet the house on it. Real fans keep rooting even after the team is mathematically eliminated. The guaranteed point cut-off is 97 pts. No team has missed the playoffs in the history of the NHL with 97 or greater. Last I remember that missed with 96 was either Phoenix or Edmonton and it was considered a travesty, but the West was VERY strong that year (and the north west division had 4 teams in the playoffs). Crazy stuff.

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
1:37 pm

Trixie, I think my last entry at around 1.33 was sent to purgatory.

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
1:40 pm

Anyhow, what I said in my entry that was banned was that 97 points has, throughout the history of the NHL, guaranteed a playoff spot. I have only seen one team miss with 96 points and I believe it was Phoenix. I think 91 will do it for Thrashy, that is still a heck of a run at this point.

Todd Bertuzzi

March 15th, 2011
1:50 pm

I’m looking for you SOB

Marty McSorley

March 15th, 2011
1:52 pm

I am in with you Todd and I just got off the phone with Claude Lemieux and he is in too.

Shameus

March 15th, 2011
1:55 pm

Don’t worry, I have sent “Sage of Bluesland” a virtual warning via PM. As Global Moderator, he must accept my authority. If he does not, I will put 5 points on his virtual internetting record. This will cause him much fear and great shame.

I am SHAMEUS, GLOBAL MODERATOR, KING OF THE INTERNETS.

Do not dare come to hfboards.com and question my authority.

From the safety of my grandmother’s basement, I will edit/delte your posts as I see fit (in addition to sending you virtual warnings via PM). Along with Behind the Net (”BTN”) and the rest of my merry men, we will take control of the internets – even after the team has moved to Canada.

ThrasherTim

March 15th, 2011
2:05 pm

Red Light – Why a buzz kill? :)

Marty McSorley

March 15th, 2011
2:05 pm

As one commentator has said previously – the Devils are weak against a fast entry. What I do not agree about is the dump and chase process against them. We don’t have the experience to fight with them in the corners and come out on top every time. What I want to see tonight is a varied approach to enter the zone: skate in, dump it, and do both unpredictably.

We have offensive talent but are lacking that first pass out of the zone that is just right on the stick (Bourque style). I think most would agree with me that this team is only a couple of players away from being quite good. They need to be D. As good as Pavs is already, think of what his numbers would be if he had a solid D in front?

Rawhide

March 15th, 2011
2:27 pm

Per C-Viv tweet: “No #Thrashers skate this morning. Will have to wait until pre-game to find out Dustin Byfuglien’s status vs. Devils.”

Badger Bob

March 15th, 2011
2:31 pm

I hate dump and chase, but if they must, please keep it away from Brodeur. He made a mockery of our dumping and chasing last Friday.

Rawhide points out that NJ has gone 7-2 but only gained 2 points on playoff position. That’s what it’s like when chasing multiple teams and Thrashy could be in store for similar results even with a very good run. We need an insane run, and it starts with two points tonight… (Baaaa!!!!!)

Badger Bob

March 15th, 2011
2:38 pm

Marty, I like your “keep it unpredictable” thoughts, but I’m gonna disagree about offensive talent. We need more players with “soft hands” to qualify as having adequate offensive talent. Our breakout passes often fail because of the stone-handedness of the receiving forward (I’m looking at you, Stewie and Thorbs). At the risk of sounding as repetitive as Sagegrass, this team’s quickest upgrade opportunities are at forward.

ThrasherTim

March 15th, 2011
3:09 pm

* Quickest upgrade opportunities are:
1 – Improving actual defensive play of our #1 D pair
2 – Better face-off % won
3 – Improved PK
4 – Upgrade 3rd/4th line talent

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
3:19 pm

Bob, I really do think that the offensive talent is just fine, there is just no real breakout strategy that is working and that mostly comes from defense. Thrashy is scoring an average of 3.5+ goals per game = the offense is just fine. ThrasherTim, yes! Defense is the number one aspect that is missing. As I said before, Pavs is very good and if you give him a solid D the team will ride him to the playoffs every year.

Shameus

March 15th, 2011
3:25 pm

Glad to see that I, Shameus, GLOBAL MODERATOR, could be of assistance to you website peasants in controlling the behavior of Sage of Bluesland so that it comports with my own opinion – which is, after all, most important.

Do not PM me, I will PM you.

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
3:25 pm

Bob, I hate dump and chase too, but you have to resort to it when you are faster than the other team and they are playing tough defense in the neutral zone. Problem is that if you go that way you also need big forwards that can grind and cycle the puck in the corners = a fast and big forward is hard to find so when you get one you keep him forever.

And you can all correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that the D point men have issues when the puck gets cycled back to them and keeping it in the zone. Huge issue to address.

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
3:29 pm

BTW, it was fun posting as Ty Domi and McSorley – just making a point from the enforcer side of the issue :)

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
3:39 pm

To append my argument at 3.25 (sorry, my browser had issues), watch the teams that are pretty much guaranteed in. They all cycle and, miraculously, seem to be able to keep the puck in the zone the whole time. They all have 2+ defensive powerhouses to hold the line. So basically, keep the team as it is (mostly), move Buffy to forward and sign to strong D-men. Pavs will love it and the team, guaranteed, will make the post season.

Cliff Fletcher

March 15th, 2011
4:06 pm

sage, i hope don waddell buys the house next door to yours.

World Be Free

March 15th, 2011
4:09 pm

I dislike the dump and chase too, but it is the only way we can expect to penetrate the Devils’ zone. Their defense in pursuit is their weekness, especially if we can lay a few good hits on their d-men early on. This would have been a good place for Ben Eager.

R/L-I still say the playoff chase is in vien, for both teams. But it is better than last place!

Cliff Fletcher

March 15th, 2011
4:14 pm

sage

and when you move into an appt, i hope ASG buys the apartment building

DW (yes, THAT one!)

March 15th, 2011
4:32 pm

Sage (!) is a disgruntled former employee of the ASG. He was fired for both gross incompetence, and for posting questionable, compromising photos of himself on his facebook page.

Smoothie

March 15th, 2011
4:50 pm

Sage of Bluesland decries it, but Justin Bieber demands that you

NEVER SAY NEVER!!

http://hockeyindependent.com/blog/?p=32600

At least until the undertaker pounds his final nail into the coffin, but he hasn’t reached the Thrashers grave plot just yet!!

Russ Minchew

March 15th, 2011
4:59 pm

Don’t let them bother you sage…I have your back

Cliff Fletcher

March 15th, 2011
5:02 pm

sage’s parrot

sits on his perch and yells out “don waddell” “five year plan” “i am laughing at you”

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
5:20 pm

OK, Smoothie, you know I dig your commentary and knowledge, but you can’t reference bieber…….EVER. If Zepplin or Maiden has a comment, that is cool – quote it to death.

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
5:28 pm

When will Rammer put Buffy at forward? Only way to win is by scoring more goals (obviously) and Buff has the ability. He is not a defensive D but a natural forward. Make the right move Rammer, for Thrashy’s sake.

G

March 15th, 2011
5:30 pm

Yeah, gotta agree with ZA here Smoothie. If you want to use the “Never Say Never” song title – at least use the Romeo Void version, not you-know-who!

Smoothie

March 15th, 2011
5:35 pm

But they didn’t come to Atlanta to embark on their path to success! See, that’s why I used the Biebster…afterall, he and Usher are going to buy the Thrashers, right!? ;)

ZAvalanche

March 15th, 2011
6:03 pm

If Bieber and Usher buy Thrashy, I will say not a bad word about them ever again, not that I really do now, I just don’t really discuss it.

Brendan

March 15th, 2011
6:30 pm

For everyone dumping on Sage, just think about this. Maybe, quite possibly, Don Waddell will FINALLY be out of a job by the June Draft. Maybe Sage’s parrot will squawk, “New ownership rules!” “Finally, Waddell is gone.” Or “Subsidize the COMPETENCE.” And see, if Sage’s parrot squawks these things, it’ll be a great day!

And my parrot will squawk, “It’s a new day for the Thrashers!,” “Let’s give the new ownership a fair chance,” and “Hockey has finally started in Atlanta!” When I think back on how terrible the NHL was in Denver, Colorado, before the Rockies moved to New Jersey … it’s a wonder that team won 3 Cups and went to 5 Conference Finals. But that franchise didn’t truly begin … until it moved and new ownership committed to winning was found.

Look at Denver, Colorado today. Even headed towards the lottery draft, that city has firmly embraced the NHL. But look how the NHL RETURNED to that city!!! That’s right. They “inherited” a team (Quebec Nordiques) that was the # 1 seed in the previous year, in the East. Did the fans of Denver need to be any more energized about receiving that team? Well, if they did, winning the Cup in 1996 sure cured that. It was the Avs first year in their new city. The Avs went on to win two (2) cups and appear in six (6) Conference Finals. The legacy of that … is a franchise that can still get fan support in the lean years. Now, obviously, I have not looked, nor studied, the attendance of the Avs over the past 2-3 seasons. I imagine it is somewhat down, with the team losing over that period. That’s normal in most NHL cities. But with two Cups in their “recent” history, they know they can do it.

Now, I hear ya. How, exactly, does the NHL put an expansion team in Atlanta and expect it to win a Cup in its first year? That’s ridiculous. But the NHL does have to do its due diligence in vetting an ownership entity for a new market like Atlanta. The product must be propped up and grown within the region. That didn’t happen here. These various ownership entities have been “caretakers” of the franchise. Nobody has really CARED for this team, aside from possibly Ted Turner, at the very inception of it. That could be about to change.

Just imagine … if it did. What if the Thrashers got committed ownership, and announced, “there will be no financial mandates on the Atlanta Thrashers Hockey Club moving forward. Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup and be a dominant team for many years.”

Contrary to some people’s beliefs, I think there’d be a rush on tickets, once some evidence of the new ownership’s commitment were put on public display. Like a $55 million budget. Like maintaining players instead of “salvaging what you can get” at the trade deadlines.