Stapleton, Thrashers look motivated to compete down the stretch

When I returned home from last night’s thrilling shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers, as I turned on some lights and made my way through the house I noticed something. The whole place was cleaned stem to stern. Everything was in its place, floors cleaned and vacuumed, kitchen mopped, furniture dusted…really, the place looked great.

Now normally such an endeavor is spearheaded by the Divine Mrs. R. She’s great that way…and is yet another reason why I always say that I “out-kicked my coverage” when I married her. She did have both our boys at home last night, so it just seemed natural that she led this latest house cleaning expedition.

However, much to my surprise, I found out this morning that it was actually the youngest tax-exemption that took command of the situation and enlisted his older brother in the charge. Their mother didn’t have to lift a finger in the effort.

When I asked what possible could have come over the boy, she simply informed me that he wants to bring his gal-pal over tonight to watch a movie. Understanding that if he invites guests over, it’s his responsibility to make sure the house is put into a guest-presentable fashion, even up to his mother’s standards…standards that are quite high.

It’s amazing what a boy is capable of if/when properly motivated, isn’t it?

Speaking of being “properly motivated”…can someone please explain to me just what has gotten into that kid Tim Stapleton lately? I mean, he played in, what, 25 games this season before finally finding the back of the net on February 25? He had only one assist in that time and it came way back on January 22.

Tim Stapleton knocks home the game-winning goal in Carolina on March 9. He's scored all four of his goals this season in the last nine games (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Tim Stapleton knocks home the game-winning goal in Carolina on March 9. He's scored all four of his goals this season in the last nine games (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

But since that time he has scored four times in the last nine games. He came into to the season with only 3 career goals in 10 NHL games.

And these haven’t been meaningless scores at the tail end of 7-1 blowout games. His first one tied the score late in the third against the Maple Leafs…a game the Thrashers went on to win in overtime. Then there was the OT game-winner in Carolina from a nice feed from Ron Hainsey, who himself is stepping his game up of late.

Last night it was Timmy getting the offense started by potting the evening’s first goal. He took an up-ice pass from Evander Kane early in the first period, streaked like a lightning bolt through and around the right side of the Flyers’ defense and then snapped the puck through Brian Boucher.

What is it that’s “motivating” Stapleton during this recent little tear of his? Maybe being waived last month has something to factor into the equation here…certainly his attitude and disposition must have something to do with it as well. When informed he’d been placed on waivers he was very candid in saying he didn’t blame the team one bit…that his production was worthy of the action.

So, instead of pouting and whining about it, he simply continued to work his butt off on the ice during games and has taken advantage of the playing time afforded him. That’s a very mature way to respond to the situation, if you ask me and he’s to be commended for it.

Somebody else I’d like to put a spotlight on here is one Bryan Little. Last night his efforts finally paid off in a goal, something that hasn’t happened for him since I think the Eisenhower administration. No, really it’s only been since February 3 against Calgary. But I’m sure to him going sixteen games without tickling the twine seems that long.

Little has contributed with 12 assists during that goalless drought and his hustle on both ends of the ice has always been evident.

And I don’t want to leave out Blake Wheeler from by kudos-fest here. This kid has impressed me ever since he found his way to Thrasherville from Boston last month. He never takes a shift off, uses his size to his advantage, battles on the boards and always seems to come out of the corners with the puck. It was very fitting he was the one who scored the game-winning goal in the shootout…an “oops, I lost the puck…oh look I just put it past you” type of effort.

Much like Little, I don’t think it’s as much as being “motivated” recently for Wheeler as it is just that is what he brings to the game night in and night out.

While I’ve spotlighted a handful of players that stood out to me in the big win over Philly, in fact last night’s outcome was in large part because of an overall team effort…one that saw the squad play as close to a full game as I’ve seen in a long while. It’s what will be needed during Saturday’s tilt in Buffalo.

Given the run the Thrashers have been on of late, that matchup against the Sabres now turns out to be HUGE, to say the least. They can pull within two of a playoff spot if with a regulation win…something this team has not been able to accomplish since February 11.

In fact, last night’s extra-time affair was the 26th of the season for the Thrashers, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by coach Craig Ramsay who remarked after the game, “It would be nice if we could get a lead and keep it and not have to play so many extra minutes”.

It’ll still take a remarkable finish, maybe even a miraculous one. But they’ve at least played there way to this point over the last six games starting with the dramatic come-from-behind win over the Maple Leafs. If they’d lost that game, it would have been the third straight defeat during a five-game home stand. Instead it turned into a W and led to this current 4-1-1 run.

And the play in that game that helped to start it all was the jam-home goal by Tim Stapleton to tie the score late. Both he and the team have played very since that time.

What’s been the spark, the motivation for Stapes?

…shrugs…

I dunno…maybe being waived?

Maybe his gal’s in town paying him a visit?

84 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

March 18th, 2011
12:52 pm

Riceowls

March 18th, 2011
12:59 pm

Why do I feel like Charlie Brown, AGAIN?

litz

March 18th, 2011
1:00 pm

Stapes has been tearing it up, no question.

It’s really funny, though, to see all the players gathered around after a goal … Stapleton is almost a foot shorter than most those guys … it looks like a pickup game, and he’s the kid brother.

Keebler Elf

March 18th, 2011
1:01 pm

Timmy is my idol.

cheif of smoke

March 18th, 2011
1:25 pm

Yep,

Time to get #14 put on my Jersey

TableHockey

March 18th, 2011
1:53 pm

I like to refer to him as “Tiny Tim” – the kid has a BIG heart. Watching them at practice i think the other players really like him – last week Bogosian tackled him at the end of practice while he was gathering pucks – it was pretty funny. At least they are making it interesting for us down the home stretch.

Hoof Arted

March 18th, 2011
1:58 pm

Stapleton just flat out hustles. Every game, every shift. Is he a “true” NHL caliber player? I don’t know. But whatever he lacks in God-given talent he more than makes up for in effort.

There are a few that are more naturally gifted than he is that could take a lesson from Timmy in that regard.

Wayne stuck in AL

March 18th, 2011
2:00 pm

WHAT…this team WASN’T motivated the first 60-plus games??? Coulda’ fooled me.

hockeygoon79

March 18th, 2011
2:04 pm

Is that true that the Thrashers have not won a regulation game since 2/11? That would be the 3-2 over the Rangers if I’m not mistaken.

Good Lord.

Hockey Biltong

March 18th, 2011
2:11 pm

Need the win over the slugs and some help with a few timely losses from our closest foes…

ZAvalanche

March 18th, 2011
2:12 pm

Blog Master – women can make guys do just about anything, too bad they know this….. As for Stapleton, this is what I love about hockey. These guys have pride and no matter what the situation is they don’t give up because they HATE losing and and losing is very personal to them.

Glad you got a clean house! Two things I have learned regarding the better half (I will only say one, you all can figure out the other), do the cooking, that way you get to eat what you want……. and the other.

KLS1

March 18th, 2011
2:15 pm

Yes, with 26 overtime games under their belts its easy to see how a bounce here or there could make or break any chance at the playoffs.

Gotta win some “easy” ones at some point?

ZAvalanche

March 18th, 2011
2:16 pm

I was so happy to see Thrashy win last night. I couldn’t watch the game but followed the score on NHL.com. Glad one of my teams had a good night. My other team had a horrific night in Calgary, huge loss and another injury. Fantastic. Keep going Thrashy, you CAN DO THIS.

Rawhide

March 18th, 2011
2:16 pm

Why do I feel like Charlie Brown, AGAIN?

Riceowls – I know what ya mean. Being a Thrashers fan means always expecting Lucy to yank that footbal away at the last moment.

Maybe this one time, though….just maybe….surly she’ll let us kick it…certainly she will… won’t she?

AAAAAaaaaaaaaugh!!!!

WHAT…this team WASN’T motivated the first 60-plus games??? Coulda’ fooled me.

Wayne stuck in AL – I don’t know if your tongue was planted firmly in your cheek when you typed that or if your sarcasmatron was registering a +11…but I’ll simply respond that too many times it seems as though they weren’t. There have been far too many games that they looked very unmotivated to begin the game or as they came out after intermission.

That’s been a major issue for this team this winter.

Is that true that the Thrashers have not won a regulation game since 2/11? That would be the 3-2 over the Rangers if I’m not mistaken.

hockeygoon79 – Yup. It’s been 14 straight games now that we’ve sent an opponent away without being able to take 1 or 2 points with them. In fact, they have exactly 3 regulation wins since December 20…a span of 36 games.

Badger Bob

March 18th, 2011
2:17 pm

Stapes is using his speed well without the puck. Last night Kaner tried to hit him streaking behind the D a couple times. Seems like Kane and Lil’ Timmy are starting to click (Kane intuitively knowing where he’ll be; Stapes intuitively knowing where to go). Stapes is like a lot of previous pint-sized speedsters we’ve had here before, except he is now showing some good hands and polish. We’ll need guys like him scoring at 0.5 goals/gm down the stretch to get this done.

ZAvalanche

March 18th, 2011
2:28 pm

11 games left. I don’t see thrashy beating Vancouver, NYR, or Philly. The rest are all games they should win. Are 16 pts possible? Yes. Probable? No.

AtlFlamesFan

March 18th, 2011
2:43 pm

Stapleton’s first two goals were each one-footer tap-ins. His 3rd goal doubled his TGF (Total Goal Footage) to four when he tapped in a two-footer. Last night, he smashed his TGF when he snapped a nice 15-foot wrister.

SomaAtl95

March 18th, 2011
2:45 pm

Staples found and activated the “Easy Button”, Little played Big and Wheeler was a shoouout dealer last night. I’ve also been enjoying Bogeys effort as of late and Vainsey has been playing like its a contract year for him… We can squeak in if each player finds that early season magic again. As long as we have tight puck control and manage to clear the puck in a timely manner anything is possible. We swept the Flyers last season… took the majority of games this season from them… if we managed the 8th and final playoff spot we’d be sitting pretty as we would face, you got it, the Flyers. If thats the case we have a chance of playoff victory, maybe even advancing a round.

Some people may mock me, call me names, or tell me to put the crack pipe down, but anything is possible if we get that last playoff spot. Bottom seed in the east last year went to the finals.

Anything is possible.

Russian

March 18th, 2011
2:46 pm

**to ZAvalanche**
What’s about Boston, Pitts and Montreal??? Even Nashville???
Do you think we willwin those Games?
If Thrasher wants to move in PO they have to go 9-1-1 and get 91 points.
Also Timmy is good boy, but he is not a NHL player. I like him scored important goals, but please do not sign him with Atlanta.

ZAvalanche

March 18th, 2011
2:53 pm

@ Russian – I was just listing the games we will definitely lose, and by definitely I mean that if I had to bet I would pick them. The 3 you listed will be hard wins, but they are more probable.

ZAvalanche

March 18th, 2011
2:59 pm

@ Soma – don’t put that crack pipe down, you are the definition of a fan – keep the faith!

Cornbread

March 18th, 2011
3:29 pm

Stapleton has always been a good little player. Little being the key word. Even when he wasn’t scoring he was playing the game the right way. He was being much more responsible defensively and without the puck. He only went on the attack when he had a clear opportunity. Now he is going more but still playing very resonsibly without the puck. Since he has been moved up with Kane recently, he is seeing more offensive opportunities that have led to more scoring chances. Don’t forget though that during his scoring drought – and everyone elses – he got several breakaways that didn’t go. Wasn’t getting as much ice time before he was waived either. Now he is. Nice seeing all that pay off. Is he an NHL caliber player as many have asked or flat out said that he is not? Don’t be surprised if Stapleton is on the Atlanta Thrashers next year.

Rawhide

March 18th, 2011
3:30 pm

:!: Squeeze In Division Standings Update!! :!:

Here’s a quick look at where the SID (Squeeze In Division) standings are. This, as you’ll recall is the new “division” that the Thrashers play in. The teams consist of the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils and your Atlanta Thrashers.

The top two teams in the SID will qualify for the playoffs in the 7th and 8th spots in the Eastern Conference.

    Squeeze In Division Standings

NYR – 78 points: 11 games remaining
BUF – 76 points: 12 games remaining
CAR – 74 points: 11 games remaining
ATL – 72 points: 11 games remaining
TOR- 72 points: 10 games remaining
NJD – 70 points: 12 games remaining

Tonight the Hurricanes host the Islanders, the Devils take on the Capitals and the Habs play in New York against the Rangers.

Regulation wins for the Isles, Caps and Montreal would certainly help our cause.

Tomorrow we have Boston at Toronto while the Thrashers play that all-important game in Buffalo.

Sunday afternoon’s NBC game is the Rangers at Pittsburgh, later on the Preds are in Buffalo as New Jersey travels to Columbus.

Let’s see how things shake out come Monday morning.

ED

March 18th, 2011
3:37 pm

May sound like a hindsight, but ever since I saw Tim do his thing with Leino and Santala in Finland a few years ago, I knew anyone and everyone of them could make it in the NHL. And quite possibly make it big. Well, Tommi tried in Thrashers, but didn’t quite make it and we all know what Ville has become in this league. So I’m glad that Atlanta seems to get it right at least the second time (or third, since Leino was – as Tim – undrafted).

I know Tim’s not getting any younger, but I think he very well may still get even better.

Cliff Fletcher

March 18th, 2011
3:51 pm

the guy that has emerged in buffalo is andrej sekera.

sabres were looking to pay bigtime for kaberle until sekera picked up his game. he is the puck carrying defense the slugs have been looking for since campbell was shipped out of town for $$$ reasons. sekera and myers can both carry the puck, put a guy on both and force their centers to lug the biscuit.

guess we have to give d-wad credit for picking up stapleton for X. the little guy is showing he belongs

Thrashers27

March 18th, 2011
3:54 pm

Wish I was there to lead this, but from here on out, if Stapleton scores at home the crowd should wait for the official annoucnement and yell “TIMMAY!” (as in South Park, Timmy) as the announcer says “Tim Stapleton”.

Cornbread

March 18th, 2011
3:56 pm

In case anyone has not noticed:
1. Tim Stapleton can fly and is a good little hockey player.
2. Zach Bogosian is now the number 1 defenceman for the Atlanta Thrashers.
3. Alexander Burmistrov played his best game in a long time last night winning all 7 FO’s (motivation?).
4. Radek Davorak has been far more effective than Fredrik Modin.
5. Blake Wheeler has been far more effective on the right wing than Niclas Bergfors.
6. Mark Stuart is a younger and more physical shut down D than Brent Sopel.
7. Rob Schremp is more effective than Nigel Dawes, Patrice Cormier, Spencer Machacek.
8. The Philadelpia Flyers are an elite NHL hockey team.
9. The Atlanta Thrashers are a very good young hockey team.
10. Cornbread is a huge Flyers and Thrashers fan.

3trees

March 18th, 2011
4:05 pm

Bill – Great story to start off. Had a similar experience at home recently. Well told and humorous, as always.

Some pretty good play last night, but would someone with more hockey knowledge please hip me to the reason these guys can’t hold a lead? Borrowing the Charlie Brown reference above, if they’re ahead, I have this sense of impending doom and start clock watching. Maybe they are too?

Go Thrashers!

Rawhide

March 18th, 2011
4:08 pm

Cornbread – Here are my responses to your recent post:

1. Indeed he can.
2. Zach has played much better of late…but #1?
3. All 7? Wow…I din not know that.
4. Indeed he has. But Terri from the Blue Crew could have been too.
5. Totally agree…but I still wish Bergie could have worked out here.
6. 100% true.
7. I like Schremp, real effective in his role.
8. Yup.
9. Yes they are.
10. Hopefully not in that order.

R. Stroz

March 18th, 2011
4:09 pm

Radek Davorak has been far more effective than Fredrik Modin.

So would a dead snail.

Cornbread is a huge Flyers and Thrashers fan.

PHILLY SUCKS

Larry E

March 18th, 2011
4:19 pm

Yes, it would be nice to see a regular game win, but I guess we will take any win. I was hoping that someone would really take out Briere for real after all of the flops that guy takes. They actually have penalties in basketball for flopers.

LAC

March 18th, 2011
4:20 pm

Davorak is no better than Modin, Both old and washed up, Horrible Trade !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cliff Fletcher

March 18th, 2011
4:21 pm

cornbread-nice post, stuart is turning out to be a heck of a pickup.

timmy is going to the net more, good for him because he is not a natual sniper, needs to be close in to score.

philly does suck carcillo needs his head punched big mouth cannot back it up

Cornbread

March 18th, 2011
4:23 pm

Rawhide yep on ZB. He’s the number 1. Take a look at the game logs over the past 5 games. Huge minutes! Last night it was a Chris Pronger like 29:10! He is out there in all situations and has been firing and moving the puck Big Buff like. One more thing if anyone has not noticed: Toby and Buff are not paired together anymore. It’s now Toby and Bogo.

Cornbread

March 18th, 2011
4:25 pm

Shows how much LAC knows about the defensive side of the game. Oh, and Dvorak still has got wheels.

SportsFan

March 18th, 2011
4:25 pm

Any news on ownership or is the end game not until the season ends for the Thrash?

Rawhide

March 18th, 2011
4:29 pm

Some pretty good play last night, but would someone with more hockey knowledge please hip me to the reason these guys can’t hold a lead? Borrowing the Charlie Brown reference above, if they’re ahead, I have this sense of impending doom and start clock watching. Maybe they are too?

3trees – Boy I wish I had the answer to that question. Three times last night they couldn’t hold a one-goal advantage, but at least they won. And again, I thought they played very well against the best team icurrently sitting in the top playoff spot in the east.

Is it a lack of focus, maybe? Inability to react to the other team’s mid-game adjustments?

shrugs…I dunno.

The last 4 times they have actually had a 2-goal lead, dating back to the debacle in Edmonton, they have seen the other team come back to at least tie the score. They’ve recovered to win 2 of those in OT, (Carolina and Florida), lost in Edmonton and New Jersey.

JT from Columbus

March 18th, 2011
4:33 pm

Any news on Ladd’s contract extension?

Dwayne

March 18th, 2011
4:33 pm

I am a Philly fan also, goes back to my childhood, Pops(my grandfather) was a all sports Philadelphia fan, hated Pittsburgh with a passion. He used to make fun of those ugly Pirate uniforms from the late 60’s and 70’s. Atlanta fan first tho. Go Thrashers!!!!
And the Academy Award goes too? Danny “the diver” Briere.

Joe McGrath

March 18th, 2011
4:39 pm

Not only was Burmi winning face-offs, he was hitting any-freaking-thing-that-moved. I noted four GOOD, HARD checks delivered by Burmi.
Call me crazy, but would a line of Burmi, Stapler and Schremp be hard to control by the opposition? You can’t hit them, because you can’t catch them. They would we’ve and bob through traffic. They’re slippery. With Schremp’s stickhandling, Staple’s speed and Burmi’s stickhandling, speed and determination, that might be a rude little line.
Do they sell mean streaks in Atlanta? If so, would anyone care to pitch in with me and buy one to give to Stewart? If Stewart would take notes watching Stuart, Stewart could be a very dangerous winger.

Rawhide

March 18th, 2011
4:39 pm

SportsFanHere is the latest in regards to the ownership situation that I’ve seen.

JT from Columbus – From what I’ve heard, the two parties are still “close” and talks continue. But that’s no different from what the news was a month or so ago. I still expect this to happen, though.

Sage of Bluesland

March 18th, 2011
4:41 pm

I’ll give the team credit for last night’s win; I watched a bit of it (mostly as background to other items) and am impressed that we hung in there and pulled it out….and the typical drubbings I’m used to are moreso fewer and farther between, it seems.

I don’t know if that is statistically accurate or not–just a perception on my part.

At least our losses seem to be a little tighter these days. Maybe that truly is “incremental progress” which Alan referred to when putting forth that Don Waddell was doing a good job (back in the first “Five-Year Plan”, that is).

It is what it is.

R. Stroz

March 18th, 2011
4:46 pm

Best chant of the evening from Section 222

WATERBOY…..WATERBOY….WATERBOY…..YOU SUCK

Brian west palm beach

March 18th, 2011
5:05 pm

They need to win 10 of 11 games to have a slight chance at the playoffs but idont care how they win as long a they do. If its a nasty cheapshot game they need to play that way too.

Cornbread

March 18th, 2011
5:09 pm

Joe McG I noted 4 hits as well for Burmi but the homer stat geeks only gave him 3.

Hoof Arted

March 18th, 2011
5:26 pm

I totally forgot to mention how much I enjoyed the story about BlogMaster’s son getting the house tidied up for his girlfriend to pay a visit. It was a creative lead in to the main topic.

While re-reading it, it came to mind that he does all of this on top of keeping a regular schedule with family and, I presume, a full time job also. That’s dedication folks. And where else is a Thrasher fan going to go to in order to find such great discussion about the team?

So I ask you all this. If this blog is a “fans” perspective of the Thrashers and the host is just a “fan” and he dedicates so much time doing this for us, what keeps him from being considered for this year’s 7th fan award?

I don’t mean to embarrass you BlogMaster or put you on the spot, but I wonder if anyone here ever thought of that.

Cornbread

March 18th, 2011
5:29 pm

Regarding Ladd signing. Anyone get the feelng that the Captain has more important things on his mind right now? Also, it could be a smart move on his and his agent’s part to hold off. Go on a tear and lead his team to the playoffs and he will be negotiating from a much bigger strength had he signed earlier.

LAC

March 18th, 2011
7:15 pm

Well “cornbread” Davorak has done nothing and his play has been average at best. So stow it with the comments ? Will he be here next season… Very Doubtful…

rob

March 18th, 2011
7:31 pm

This has to be the most frustrating team to watch in the history of sports! Plain to see they can play. Hard to find a reason why they can’t seem to play a whole freaking game. Even harder to find why they fold so easy against the teams they need to beat and then rise to the occassion against teams they shouldn’t beat. I hold out hope for the playoffs yet, but I don’t expect it. The one thing it would be nice to see is someone in a Thrashers uniform deliver one of those knockout type checks! Several times Mr Brierre had his head down and I was screaming for the check I just knew was coming only to see it pass…..WTF? The guy makes a living off killing us, and if we make it to 8th to face them, why not give him reason to think about just chugging along head down?!?!?! We need that mean streak most teams carry. Not cheap, just unforgiving. And when do we get to be only a one Stuart team? HAHAHA Gonna be an entertaining end to the season. Playoff hockey is in the air already with so many teams fighting for the final two spots.
LET’S GO THRASHERS!!!!!!

Furious George

March 18th, 2011
11:01 pm

Watching last night’s game made me realize that the additons of Schremp and Wheeler also gave us something that we needed badly: shootout specialists. Their SO numbers speak for themselves. Maybe I don’t have to dread a game going past overtime again.