Over the course of the past several weeks, there have been many different words Thrashers fans have used to describe the way this 2010-11 season has turned out. Some have even been fit to print here. But Nik Antropov’s comments following Saturday’s 3-2 loss in Boston, one that officially eliminated them postseason play, seems to contain the word most appropriate.
“It’s frustrating, that’s the feeling right now”, the Thrashers forward said after the game. “Nothing else but frustration.”
The key word there would be frustrating…or frustration, take your pick.
Indeed Antropov’s words could accurately sum up the feeling after losing yet another close game. They led 2-1 early in the second period after Evander Kane’s 19th goal of the season. However, the Thrashers failed to convert their early success into a win.
After intercepting a weak outlet pass from Zach Bogosian behind Ondrej Pavelec’s net, Danielle Paille knotted the score at two-all just under five minutes later. At the time Boston was killing off a delay of game penalty by former Thrasher Shane Hnidy.
Then in the third, Bogosian once again gift wrapped the puck for the Bruins with another turnover and fellow defenseman Johnny Oduya had little option but to take down the charging Michael Ryder. However, he converted on the penalty shot and the Bruins had the 3-2 margin they would eventually win by.
Bogosian had an up close and personal vantage point for all three Boston goals and his –26plus/minus rating is “tops” on the team in that stat. Antropov is next on the current roster with a –14, (Rich Peverley was a –16 before being traded in February to Boston).
Yessir-ee, Zach has had a frustrating season to say the least.
But the “F” word could also sum up how the second half of this season has played out for the Thrashers. After playing to a 22-15-6 record and 50 points after 43 games played…and stop me if you’ve heard this one before… they failed to take advantage of that success and stumbled from that point on. Since the 3-2 win in south Florida on January 5, they have gone a disappointing 11-18-6 since with just 4 regulation wins in those 35 games.
The Thrashers will now prepare to finish off the remaining four games in this frustrating campaign. And although they themselves are now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, all four remaining matchups will have some impact on others who remain in the thick of the playoff race. None more so than the two scheduled later this week. Thursday and Friday night they’ll face the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes. Both are scratching and clawing to earn a spot in this spring’s great hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Following their shootout win in Philly, the Rangers have 89 points with 3 games left to play. Buffalo defeated Carolina in overtime, giving the Sabres 90 and the Canes 87.
As for Atlanta, no matter the outcome of this week’s games they’ll finish in fourth place in the Southeast Division. They can finish no higher than 10th in the conference and no lower than 12th. The most points they can achieve is 86 if they take all 8 available in the final four games.
Last season they were second in the southeast and tenth in the conference with an 83-point season.
Looking down the road, they’ll own a draft pick somewhere in the range of 6th to 8th overall in June’s NHL entry draft. After that, it’s free agent signing season beginning on July 1, then we wait for training camp and preseason in the fall.
One of those exhibition games will be against the Ottawa Senators in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland. The two will play there after that was named Kraft Hockeyville 2011. It’ll be the second time the Thrashers have participated one of these games. Prior to the 2007 season, they beat the New York Islanders 4-3 in overtime in North Bay, Ontario.
Until then, though, they’ll just be finishing out this frustrating season. But at least the Thrashers will have a chance to share some of that frustration with the Rangers and Hurricanes.