Mason throws goose egg at hockey’s Grim Reaper as Thrashers blank Flyers

He stands silently in the chilly, damp mist that has blanketed Thrasherville for the past several days. In his hand, he holds a hockey stick with a sharply curved blade instead of a scythe.

Robed in black, he makes his way through the NHL’s landscape to gather up 14 of the league’s poor unfortunate souls. One by one, as they are mathematically eliminated from postseason contention and their playoff aspirations expire, he gathers them up and takes them away.

He is hockey’s Grim Reaper…the angel of the dark light that the Atlanta Thrashers have become very well acquainted over the past eleven NHL seasons.

Thursday night, the Reaper traveled to Philadelphia knowing that a loss to the Flyers would cause the Thrashers playoff hopes to finally flat-line and be declared officially, if not mercifully, dead. Oh, their fate has been known and accepted for some time now and the team’s fans have gathered around the deathbed awaiting the inevitable.

But on this night, death would be cheated as Chris Mason and his 43 saves blanked the Flyers. It was the 21st shutout of Mason’s NHL career and his first as a Thrasher.

Nik Antropov’s third period goal proved to be all the offense the Thrashers would require in the 1-0 win allowing the Thrashers frail playoff chances to cling desperately to life…even if for just one more game. It was goal number 15 of the season for Antropov, who also scored the only goal scored the team’s only goal during Tuesday’s loss in Montreal.

In defeating Philly, Atlanta wrapped up the four game season series with the Eastern Conference’s top team. The Thrashers took three of them…twice beating them in extra time and then Thursday night’s victory.

Saturday afternoon they’ll take on the Northeast Division leading Bruins in Boston. The Thrashers are 2-1 against the Bs this season, winning both games in Atlanta and losing 4-1 up there just before Christmas.

In fact, if you consider the 4-1-1 record against the Southeast Division leading Washington Capitals, they are 9-3-1 so far against the three division leaders and top seeds in the east. Pittsburgh, whom the Thrashers are yet to beat this season, does hold the third highest point total in the conference, but given they trail Philly by four points in the Atlantic Division they are the fourth seed at this time.

Atlanta is 2-1 against the top three out west as they knocked off San Jose 4-2 back on October 16, beat the Big Red Borg 5-1 on Thanksgiving Eve before losing to Vancouver last Friday.

That would leave them with a mark of 11-4-1 against the six division leaders going into this weekend’s bout in Beantown.

Make no mistake… the Atlanta Thrashers will officially and mathematically be eliminated from the playoff race sometime in the coming days. Hockey’s Grim Reaper has time and the odds on his side. All it will take is one more loss or a win by the Rangers and Sabres.

On this night however, as he stood waiting for them next to the Zamboni, they stared back at him and laughed in the face of death.

In defiance, Chris Mason even tossed at goose egg at him.

100 comments Add your comment

Alan R.

April 1st, 2011
12:24 am

Bill, kudos is in order for this fine piece of journalism you’ve composed here!

SomaAtl95

April 1st, 2011
1:02 am

Bravo, Bill. The only thing that takes the sting out of yet another early exit is the fact we’ve still got this blog to come to and talk hockey! Hoping the Thrashers get committed ownership, then as the NHL commercials keep saying, “History will be made”.
Just a shame it took 2 generations of Atl hockey before that finally happens. We’d be old hat in the playoffs if the A$G hadn’t watched the infomercial titled “How to try to flip a sports team and alienate an entire city at the same time”

R. Stroz

April 1st, 2011
1:08 am

GOLD……..APRIL FOOLS!

Brendan

April 1st, 2011
1:25 am

A nice write-up. The Reaper may escort us to Lotterydraftville. Right now, we’re 6th. I was a bit surprised to see Florida is now ranked 15th, behind Ottawa. It’s very possible for the Devils to finish ahead of Atlanta. It’s a little less likely that the Islanders will. But even if it is only NJ that surpasses Atlanta, that’s enough to make us 5th.

You know my policy. Anywhere in the Top 10, but especially in the Top 5, you make a selection. I don’t want to see a repeat of 2005, where we move from 8th to 16th, to pick Alex Bourret, to load up on 2nd rounders. IF we must trade this pick, it’s got to be for a Tier I player, with 4-6 years left on his contract. Otherwise, we might as well just pick someone.

Big and Little

April 1st, 2011
6:53 am

The miracle run continues! They will make a movie of this in years to come!! Go Thrashers!!! Playoffs here we come!!!

EA

April 1st, 2011
6:58 am

Kane says it is fun to play in that kind of atmosphere. We have heard that before. Perhaps with new ownership, we can fill our building on a regular basis and create that atmosphere on a regular basis.

EA

April 1st, 2011
6:59 am

Ooops-regular basis twice–it is early!

BLUELANDbeliever

April 1st, 2011
7:19 am

Big, i love ur optimism but its been over for awhile. Ive been holding out these past few weeks but have decided to enjoy the rest of the season. Mason was spectacular and hes the NHL.com Compuware 1st star of the night. If in fact by nothing short of a miracle, we make the playoffs, my butt will be in the bulb for every game. Stewart, you gotta hit the net there man, no excuse for that. This team does not stand up for the $hi* it takes AT ALL! Why didnt Boulton or Thor or someone mess Carcilo up after the crap they were doing to Burmie? Stop taking crap and stand up for your teammates!

Rip Van Winkle

April 1st, 2011
7:34 am

Don Waddell STILL has a job….and he got promoted, as well?!?

Red Light

April 1st, 2011
7:43 am

Initially, I thought you were talking about Scott Hartnell Bill. Nice lead-in.

Phoenix, Nashville and Anaheim all are 8-2 in their last 10 games, but the President’s Trophy winners are 9-1. Tough to make up ground out west, and the seedings are going to be quite interesting in the West. Dallas loss at San Jose is another crushing blow for their hopes but they still have six games left.

The Rangers are now buckling and both the Canes and Leafs still have a shot. Big SO win for the Buds last night. But, it still is going to take at least 90 points to get a playoff spot IMO, and that would mean Toronto has to win all four games to have a shot, and the Canes will need 6 or 7 points in their last five games. Another interesting final week is coming at us.

Flames

April 1st, 2011
7:49 am

Mason was just awesome last night!

sisu

April 1st, 2011
8:03 am

What a great hockey game to watch! If this type of effort would have been shown few months ago the team would have qualified for the post season. I wonder how NY will feel once they realize they are looking at Carolina making the post season instead of them? Looks like the preseason predictions are coming through on 3 SE teams making the playoffs…

Dwayne

April 1st, 2011
8:08 am

It was a good day, Thrashers win, Braves win.

Flames

April 1st, 2011
8:08 am

I really believe that we are only a few players away from becoming a really good team. I thought the additions of Stuart and Wheeler have worked out well. We need more players like Stuart. He plays with a lot of grit. I really believe that the Ben Maxwell move will work out for us. I don’t know how we can get another scoring forward. I haven’t looked at the free agent market for next year. I just wish we could get a new owner like the one in Buffalo. He was so excited to purchase that team. Look how they responded to the new owner. I think everything starts with a new ownership. It can only go up hill from there.

Mr. Heat Miser

April 1st, 2011
8:10 am

The Thrashers may have just delayed the inevitable but shutting out those Broad Street PUNKS in their own house makes it a little more bearable.

jimbo

April 1st, 2011
8:14 am

Good one, Rawhide. Mason was great. Robbie Schremp may be a find. Let’s hope the Grim One sends old Clueless Craig on a one way Zamboni ride.

Spud Webb

April 1st, 2011
8:29 am

REDLIGHT!!!!!!!!! I’m liking my chances for some steak….2 more wins baby!!!
WOW your Rangers getting CRUSHED last night. Torts was speachless….I couldn’t believe avery went at the end of the game…
Call me crazy, but I love watching that Islanders team. Al Montoya, ARE YOU KIDDING ME! What a great story this guy is.
Thrashers and Isles will both be in teh playoffs next season…two young and exciting teams.

Red Light

April 1st, 2011
8:35 am

It’s a consolation steak for you Spud if you get it. Meaningless wins after elimination was a certainty, long a trait for this club. No worse comment to make than, “we finished only five points out of the 8th spot,” particularly when spending another $3- to $5 million might have made a big difference.

Hope the little one is well!

Michael B. Shapiro

April 1st, 2011
8:46 am

Just how many chances does Anthony Stewart need to score a goal? And then in the third he fails to clear the puck when we urgently need to? Finally, will this team ever score an empty net goal so we can all sigh in relief? Still a good win, especially over the Bullies! Go Thrash.

LAC

April 1st, 2011
8:47 am

Bill, right, but when we are 0-4-2 against Tampa, 1-2-2 against Carolina.

1-3 against Toronto, 0-3 against Pittsburgh, 1-3 against Buffalo, Bad losses to Dallas, Columbus, St.Louis, 1 in OT, 1 in regulation… Bad loss in Edmonton. While we had some other tough losses, Chicago (OTL), Vancouver, several against Tampa… and a couple against Carolina and Eirk Cole !!!

A bounce here or there, NO back to back goals within a minute several times… And where could we be ?

We have scored with the best of them, BUT… The same damn issue that has plagued this franchise since inception, GA, we are going to be at the bottom again, That MUST be addressed in the offseason, We HAVE to shore up the defense. Just think if we had allowed 60 fewer goals, We would be making playoff plans. The defense MUST been upgraded !!! Until we DO, we will be in this same position again and again.

Can dudley & Ramsey NOT see this ?????? Why NOT ????

Fan from Carolina

April 1st, 2011
8:57 am

Very impressive effort and win. Now if they could just pick up a Jeff Skinner type with their draft pick… Thrashers scouts, are you doing your job this year??? The Canes sure stole him after all those clubs passed. The same can happen again. Doesn’t have to be a lottery pick to get a real good one.

Darkhorse

April 1st, 2011
9:03 am

In true Thrasher fashion, they will rise up and win out the last five games and miss the 8th seed by 2pts. Gee, that will be such a good feeling to see the boys step up………..;(

New, quality ownership is the only remedy here.

Oh, and I hope the Buds fall just short. Maybe win on the last day and they’re in, but choke and crumble.

j nes

April 1st, 2011
9:28 am

@Rip

Did you ever see the episode of Seinfeild where Elaine is stuck with an incompetent psychopath of an employee. In order to rid herself of the guy, she promotes him. Maybe that is what happened with DW?

DWTOO

April 1st, 2011
9:31 am

Amazing – We have a winning record against the better teams in the league and suck it up against our fellow bottom feeders. Think that’s called leadership. Hate to see revolvoing coaches in this franchise, but, maybe it’s time for a change. Was listening to the Philly feed for awhile and their DE equivalent (think it’s Keith Jones) was singing Rammers praises. Of course because he’s not their coach.

Hoof Arted

April 1st, 2011
9:32 am

Didn’t Don Waddell tell us three years ago that the Thrashers were futher along than the Flyers it terms of rebuilding?

Or was that just that year’s April Fools joke from him?

AtLFanatic

April 1st, 2011
9:42 am

I like Byfuglien at Defense but I would love to see him moved back to forward. At the beginning of the season it was working well, but then teams adjusted to our style of play and we did not make adjustments back. If we put Byfuglien at forward, I feel like we could create more scoring, knock in more rebounds, and better yet, use our talent that we have better. He is waaaay to good to not be putting up a lot of goals and assists. What you guys think?

Spud Webb

April 1st, 2011
9:51 am

RL…there are NO truer words that this…”particularly when spending another $3- to $5 million might have made a big difference”
Kind leaves a bump in your tummy.
She’s doing great man! thanks

Rawhide

April 1st, 2011
10:00 am

Spud Webb – If I failed to do so before, please allow me to offer up congratulations to you on the birth of your little “Spud-ette”.

Hockey Biltong

April 1st, 2011
10:17 am

Birthday Win… the best kind!!!!!

Not Blind

April 1st, 2011
10:35 am

Philly’s in a bit of a slump and is also getting no ‘puck luck’ at the moment. The whole game was filled with ‘ cover your eyes ’scenarios with the Flyers pressing and the Thrashers floundering but somehow escaping the moment. That somehow doesn’t include much skillful play from the Thrashers, just luck .

Ramsey should at least put Buff out as a forward on the powerplay. This would give one of the other D men a chance for pp time.

Darkhorse

April 1st, 2011
10:56 am

Sad part is, had we squeaked into the 7th or 8th seed, we probably could have made a little noise and made it a series with the team playing the top seeds pretty well this season.

Midfield

April 1st, 2011
11:02 am

Yeah, Michael, Stewart looks really awkward and out-of-place in the NHL in the second half. I remember looking at him during his career-high scoring spree in the Fall and wondering how is it that he had scored just a few goals prior to being moved to Atlanta. Now I’m wondering how he’d scored any goals.

Chuck

April 1st, 2011
11:38 am

Although things are hopeless, with the Rangers all of a sudden losing two in a row, they now have 4 games left with the next two first in Philly and then at home to Boston. Imagine if they lose both those games in regulation which is possible, then their 3rd game is against the Thrashers.

Harry Zanus

April 1st, 2011
11:41 am

Mr Brendan…. I believe we are currently 7th worst in the league, and if devils pass us, we would then be 6th wosrt in the laegue. Worse than last year, and our point total may be lower as well.

Joe McGrath

April 1st, 2011
11:48 am

As “kryptonite” to the Flyers, angst and frustration among the Flyers players AND fans is “wonderful.” Could you feel their frustration oozing from the TV? Everytime Mason made a stop, or our D averted their drive, the boy and I giggled like school girls. If the Thrashers made the 8th spot, I think we’d take them in 6.

Swap “Russia” and “Stewart” and “national” with “personal” in Chuchill’s famous quote and you have:
“I cannot forecast to you the action of Stewart. He is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Stewart’s personal interest.”
Works for me.

Give Rammer another year–but if there is a losing streak, sack him.

Add two top 6 forwards in off season? Move Buff up to forward. Buff up front = Esposito a la 1970-75. Postma is ready to fill in. Scottie Upshall would be an amazing addition.

Stuart/Oduya tandem works very well as 3rd pairing–Stuart’s work ethic is rubbing off on Johhnny O.

Bogosian is improving. I ragged him all season, but I was wrong. He’ll be better next year, etc.

2011-12: Bogosian/Enstrom, Hainsey/Postma, Stuart/Oduya with Kulda/Meyer as back-ups?

Maxwell and Schremp may just work out.

Riding fence about Stapleton. At times he reminds me of Martin St. Louis, without the grit. Maybe he should Youtube some Theo Fleury.

Frosty the snowman

April 1st, 2011
11:48 am

Does anyone know the available free agent defensmen?

Sage of Bluesland

April 1st, 2011
12:50 pm

One of Don Waddell’s many blusterings has come true, folks. Remember when his goal was “playing meaningful games in March”?

Well, surprisingly, it has come twue! We are not mathematically eliminated–and I’m shocked to hear it.

Not bad for being well into our third “Five-Year Plan”…As a bonus, seeing that we put Philadelphia to sleep (both on-ice and on the scoreboard), maybe we ARE ahead of them, development-wise?

(For you, Cornbwead)

ZAvalanche

April 1st, 2011
1:03 pm

Nice win Thrashy. Awesome game Mason. I would rather be in the mix, but playing spoiler is better than nothing.

jimbo

April 1st, 2011
1:04 pm

i agree with many of you that D-Buff is more of an asset to the team up front and around the net where he is tough to handle. Give us a decent first line center with Buff and Ladd up front and we’d be a force. Buff is not that good a D-Man. He doesn’t stay put and is often caught out of position. Kulda and Postma appear NHL ready.

LAC

April 1st, 2011
2:15 pm

I agree Sage, But Which five year plan is this one ??? waddell has LIED so much.

Hoof you are correct, Mr Stupid did say that a few years ago, just another example of what a F’up this guy is and was in the NHL. He has NO business being in this league or any other hockey venue, there is no place in the NHL for people who Lie and are Stupid, except with Atlanta which had the Worst owners in the history of professional sports.

PLEASE get a new OWNER soon, and keep the team here where it belongs !

Joe Friday

April 1st, 2011
2:30 pm

Sign Bieksa and move Buf up front. I’ve noticed that Buf is rotating more up front, he’s been screening the goalie on the PP and he had that great chance in the 1st last night from the slot. I think they’ll move him up there, Kane on the LW, Little in the middle, Buf on the right, and watch it happen. Kane’s due for a breakout year, next year, seen some good glimpses out of him this last 1/3rd of the season.

glovesave29

April 1st, 2011
2:33 pm

“When I go back home to Canada (he’s a native of Dauphin, Manitoba,) people will say, ‘Well, how can you have a hockey team in Nashville?’ And I tell ‘em, ‘well, just come to Nashville. For a period, there was talk of us leaving town and our corporate base wasn’t as good as we needed it to be. But what’s happened is the local ownership group has taken over, and just by them coming in and saying ‘We’re not going anywhere’ has put investment into the fans. There’s a bond now, I would say. A nontraditional hockey market is turning into more of a traditional market. We’re now a fabric of Nashville. If we ever have a deep (playoff run) our city will go crazy.”

- Barry Trotz, Head Coach – Nashville Predators

Wouldn’t that be nice to replace “Nashville” with “Atlanta”?

Joe McGrath

April 1st, 2011
2:38 pm

@glovesave29, wouldn’t it be nice to replace Ramsey with Trotz?

glovesave29

April 1st, 2011
2:44 pm

Yeah Joe, but Trotz has been given more to work with too….

glovesave29

April 1st, 2011
3:10 pm

TSN is reporting that Calgary will change their name next season to the Cowboys in honor of the 30th anniversary of the WHA’s founding. Rumor has it we may be seeing the return of the Atlanta Flames.

glovesave29

April 1st, 2011
3:11 pm

Typo – sorry…40th anniversary

Cornbread

April 1st, 2011
3:23 pm

Just glad it was not my Flyers to eliminate my Thrashers.

Nice to see the Thrashers win a game when they were not at their best. There were far too many games this season where the Thrashers looked like the Flyers did last night and wound up with the same losing results.

Mason should have been starting in goal from February on. He has proven to be better and more reliable than Pavs during the pressure run. But, put Pavs in against Boston. He’s young and the experience will benefit him and the team in years to come.

Dwayne

April 1st, 2011
3:52 pm

Just glad it was not my Flyers to eliminate my Thrashers
hear hear !!!

Dwayne

April 1st, 2011
3:53 pm

or here here, which ever one works

Joe McGrath

April 1st, 2011
5:08 pm

Anybody hear what Kincade is saying on 680 The Fanat 5 p.m.–supposed to be some big announcement–on April 1 of all days. I’m at work and can’t hear it.