Little positive found in Thrashers lost season

Instead of typing out words that could properly describe last night’s heaping, steaming pile of FAIL that the Thrashers left on the ice of Philips Arena, I wanted to try and find something positive to write about. And one “positive” that came to mind was Bryan Little…specifically speaking, his team-leading plus/minus stat.

Now, like many of you I always take the +/- numbers with a healthy dose of salt. It’s a stat that can sometimes be misleading as it doesn’t factor in such things as if the individual is playing top-line minutes against top-line opponents and if a defenseman is being paired with another who might be weighing him down.

However, sometimes a player’s +/- rating is indeed well deserved. For instance, take Zach Bogosian and his -25 for the season. I don’t think you’ll find too many Thrashers fans who’ve been paying attention that would argue he doesn’t deserve that negative stat hanging around his neck.

Bryan Little scores one of his 18 goals this season against Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks. Little leads the team with a +12 rating this season (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Bryan Little scores one of his 18 goals this season against Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks. Little leads the team with a +12 rating this season (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

On the opposite end of that spectrum, Little’s +12 for the season can also be described as well deserved.. In a season that has spiraled into the ground since New Years, Little has been one of the few positives to be found.

Take last night’s craptastic 6-1 beating dished out by the Carolina Hurricanes for instance. Bryan Little’s goal in the last minute of play was the only thing that denied Cam Ward of his fifth shutout of the year. Even though it made…ahem…little difference in the outcome of the game, it did allow Little to finish with a +1 rating. He and Andrew Ladd were the only two Thrashers who were on the positive side of that stat on this losing night.

When he scored, I couldn’t help but think that f there was one player in red that deserved to score the lone goal registered by the home team, Little was that one.

His +12 far and away leads the rest of this Thrashers squad. Among those remaining on the roster, the next highest is the +4 held by defenseman Ron Hainsey. Brent Sopel was a +7 before being dealt to Montreal in February.

In fact, last night’s +1 pulls Little’s career +/- to EVEN in this his fourth season with Atlanta. That’s quite an accomplishment for anyone who has played so many games with this team over the last four years.

As stated above, a player’s +/- stat doesn’t always tell the whole story and it’s not good to try and judge there worth solely on those numbers. But given that this team has given up 43 more goals than they have scored this season, Little’s positive showing here really does stick out given he’s averaging 18:26 TOI. To me, it’s indicative of the solid effort he puts in night in and night out and how he works his butt off every shift.

His 47 overall points is second among forwards on the team and his 29 are a career high. His 18 goals scored are well off his career high of 31 set two years ago, but it hasn’t been due to any lack of hustle or drive. If anything, this kid could win this year’s Snake-Bit Award as he’s pinged the post and been stymied by great saves time and time again.

But even though he’s been frustrated at times in the offense zone, Little hasn’t let it affect his play in the defensive zone. That’s a telling sign of a maturing young star.

Next fall, Little will begin his fifth season in a Thrashers uniform and he’ll no doubt be one of the players looked upon most if the team is going to finally put together a positive record and earn a spot in the playoffs after four straight years on the outside looking in.

123 comments Add your comment

World Be Free

April 11th, 2011
8:33 am

LAC I agree with your post, especially when it comes to changing the system. The number of blown leads this season should be enough evidence that the defensive systems does not work. The Rangers’ announcers had some interesting observations on Thursday, one of them being the Thrashers have trouble in front of their net. Anyone see the Wild/Stars game last night? Minny’s defenseman showed how you should play the opposition in front of the cage. Standing in front of the opposing team’s net should never be a nice experience. All too often opposing players feast off standing in front of out cage.

Make Buff a full time first line right winger. He spents so much time rushing the noet these days, that I think he disrupts the offense when he is on the ice. Forwards are constantly filling in for him on the points. Forwards are forwards, they are not defenseman.

Red Light

April 11th, 2011
8:39 am

• The Predators’ first-round pick will go to the Senators
• The Kings’ first-round pick will go to the Oilers
• The Bruins’ first-round pick will go to the Maple Leafs
• The Flyers’ first-round pick will go to the Maple Leafs
• The Blues’ first-round pick will go to the Avalanche

After the first round, the Thrashers have the 67th, 97th, Montreal’s 4th-round pick (TBD-Sopel), Carolina’s 5th-round pick (Bergfors and Rissmiller-133rd), San Jose’s 5th-round pick (TBD-Eager), 157th, 187th and Calgary’s 7th-round pick (194th-Modin).

The Thrashers shipped their 2nd round pick to Chicago (Ladd, etc.) and their 5th-round pick to the Islanders (for 2 6th round picks last summer).

Red Light

April 11th, 2011
8:50 am

Loved Klingberg’s quote that re-affirmed the blog commentaries about the Chicago Wolves…

“I was in Chicago and didn’t play so much because they had their team the whole season and didn’t want to ruin that.”

The Wolves finished in 6th-place out of 8 teams and out of the playoffs.

World Be Free

April 11th, 2011
9:02 am

Red Light-that’s alotta picks – time for Dudley to earn his money. Like the Klingberg quote, obviously Dudley was frustrated by the lack of time some of his prospects got in Chicago. This is really the number one priority for this team in the off season, hockey-related.

J-man

April 11th, 2011
9:15 am

Brendan – Thanks for doing the contest. I also guessed 80 points and nailed that, even if I did miss badly on where I thought the team would finish in the conference (I picked 13th). I’m hoping for new owners as soon as possible as I believe that everything else depends on that being done first.

ZAvalanche

April 11th, 2011
9:17 am

RL, looks like the Avs will pick in the top 3 guaranteed and a very high chance of the 11th overall pick. not bad. Good to see Adam Foote go out at home with a win. Thanks for 19 years Footer, they were spectacular. I really like how the refs let him molest the player in the corner on his last shift, that is classy.

World Be Free

April 11th, 2011
9:26 am

Zavs-sorry to see Foote have to hang them up. Old school, no flash just a hardnosed physical player.

Joe Friday

April 11th, 2011
9:27 am

“Bogosian’s entire game is a mess. Not sure if he can be fixed, and I have not been picking on him before. He really is pretty far gone. You wonder what will happen in the off season.”

It’s so hard to give up on a young dman as they take the longest to develop. But I’m done with him. You can’t teach smart, and that boy has no sense. He was completely clueless on the Pens’ 4th goal and then his ridiculous clear up the middle of the ice late in the 3rd while on the kill was it for me, makes a blind backhanded clear up the middle of our zone and it’s a perfect centering pass to an open Pen. If anyone wants to overpay for him, do the deal, and sign two dmen this summer. I also completely agree with Buf at 1st line RW, no brainer of the year. We all scratched our heads when they made that switch to d, especiallly after he dominated the Stanley Cup playoffs up front last year . . . Roenick was right.

Why did Ramsay start Mason yesterday? You don’t start your franchise goalie at the last home game of the year? Clueless Craig.

Klingberg looked like a player.

I have a bad feeling that we’re looking at another year of the Spirit Squad and Clueless Craig at head coach and a similar lineup next year with low dollars being spent, I don’t see how they sell it off to someone new by July 1st so we can spend the necessary coin to fix holes. I am a very deflated Thrashers’ fan right now.

Red Light

April 11th, 2011
10:25 am

Foote was a foot-soldier through and through during his time with the Avs. Sad that he ever played in Columbus! I find it interesting that during his 19-year career he was only able to play more than 70 games in a season seven times. After the lockout, he played in 355 regular season games but just 16 playoff games.

Prior to the lockout, he played in 154 playoff games and he was part of teams (Quebec & Colorado) that advanced past the first round in 8 of 13 seasons. Not only did he win two Cups, but he also played in the conference finals four times. Not sure how you can leave him out of the Hall of Fame.

Red Light

April 11th, 2011
10:30 am

ZAvs

If Colorado doesn’t re-sign Milan Hedjuk, the oldest player on the roster (barring other FA signings) will be John-Michael Liles, who won’t turn 31 until Nov. 25. That’s scary!

Smoothie

April 11th, 2011
10:45 am

“Forwards are forwards, they are not defenseman.”

Quote of the day! Enough of these stupid, ill-concocted “up tempo” systems that rely on forwards to skate backwards. There’s a reason forwards play forward and D-men (good ones) play defense. And Buff is just talented enough to play defense. But I’d rather he play forward, and play with motivation on every shift. Bogosian is a forward trapped in a D-man’s fantasy. He’s not ever going to be a top 2 defenseman unless he takes a long, deep swim in “Lake You” to find himself and come to the realization that he needs to focus on playing defense and learning how to read the game, and not get fixated on the puck.

ex-ex-STH – congrats, nailing that contest on the # with the two tiebreakers is quite impressive. Would you like to submit my four picks for the US Open so I can move up in my Majors Pool this summer??

Great day yesterday despite the horrific game we were treated to by Chris Mason. Yikes Almighty! What is wrong with this guy? He’s the new Mike Dunham. I actually agree with stendek that he should be called Marshmallow Mason for I have never seen so many soft goals allowed by a supposedly above average, quality tender. Trade his butt and bring back Moose for a 1-year deal to give Pasquale another year to get ready as Pavelec’s eventual back-up.

One final thing: Klingberg is the real deal. You can just tell. He was shafted in Frolunda and then treated like a peasant in Chicago. He’s going to be a freakin’ beast and I would hate to be a D-man in the Southeast once that 6′3″ animal puts another 20 15-20 lbs on his scrawny frame. He’s not afraid of anything and he definitely seems to fint the profile of a “miserable SOB” that Dudley seems to love. Love Boultsy but he should be no more than a 13th depth forward, if not 14th as Stapleton deserves a chance to stay on this roster as well for added depth. But Klingberg, Cormier and Burmi must take the next step. Lucky for them, they are forwards and they will develop faster than Bogey.

Smoothie

April 11th, 2011
10:46 am

Oh dang, trapped in the blog spam net.

Trixie, my dearest sweet lady, will you please rescue me. Delete either of the two attempts as they are only differnt by a couple letters.

Mucho gracias!!

Red Light

April 11th, 2011
10:48 am

The Cast-Offs

Combined stats for Freddy Modin, 40 games and seven goals. He played just 4 games for Calgary. UNDER!

Bergfors: 1 goal and 6 assists in 20 games for the Panthers. 16:19 of ice time per game.

Rissmiller: 9 games for Florida, one assist in 10:04 of ice time per game.

Eager: 4 goals, 3 assists in 9:01 of ice time per game in 34 games for San Jose. Playoff bound.

Sopel: 12 games for the Habs. 15:54 of ice time per game. -1 rating. Playoff bound.

Dawes: 4 games for the Habs. No points in 6:44 of ice time per game. Hamilton, AHL playoffs.

Peverley: 23 games for Bruins. 15:46 of ice time per game. 4 goals, 3 assists, -1 rating. Playoff bound.

Valabik: 10 games for Providence Bruins. 2 assists and a -1 rating. Missed playoffs.

Smoothie

April 11th, 2011
10:49 am

Good point Joe, as much as I believe we’ll get new owners, not so sure it will happen quickly enough to help us pay for veteran help. Thusly, you tell Buff he must return to forward, demote Bogosian to 3rd pairing till he starts learning how to play DEFENSE and sign at least one veteran D-man with some size and snarl to give us added depth. Of course, Kulda is probably snarling at the chance to check Craig Ramsay in practice for cutting his ass out of camp.

R. Stroz

April 11th, 2011
11:02 am

After listening to Ramsay’s post game comments yesterday, I pondered where he planned to take the players yesterday afternoon, Brusters, Baskin Robbins, or Cold Stone Creamery

Alan R.

April 11th, 2011
11:03 am

The Flames announced a move in June, the Nordiques in May as were the North Stars (only after the NHL promised owner Green the new San Jose franchise)…only the Jets and Whalers played lame duck seasons.

There are provisions in the NHL’s constitution and by-laws that prevent something like that happening as quickly as it did in years past. The “deadline date” is one of those things; however, the BoG can always vote to ignore that deadline.

Even then, though, it would be hard to move the team, as there are several stipulations outlined in the by-laws regarding market, ownership, and other factors.

Time is on our side. Not because some ticket rep said so, but because local options exist.

Rawhide

April 11th, 2011
11:07 am

OK everyone…now that the season is done, let’s take a quick look back at The Good, The Un-Good and the Ugly of the 2010-11 campaign.

Then, it’s on to playoff hockey discussion.

Red Light

April 11th, 2011
11:10 am

“After listening to Ramsay’s post game comments yesterday, I pondered where he planned to take the players yesterday afternoon, Brusters, Baskin Robbins, or Cold Stone Creamery.”

Not sure about that R. Stroz, but I’m told the player’s participation trophies will be awarded tomorrow!

Smoothie

April 11th, 2011
11:17 am

Uhhh, can I get released from the spam filter into the new blog??

My comments are IMPORTANT!! :cool:

BMF

April 11th, 2011
12:01 pm

Haven’t posted in a while but some good dialogue on this blog so i’ve got some thoughts about the just-concluded season, and for the future:

Alright, I’m going to play fantasy GM here. Here’s my ’10-’11 season evaluation, player by player:

Antropov: I expected more, you’re just not 100% healthy yet. Hopefully you will get your speed back, and soon. 2 more seasons on your contract.
Kane: Good season, getting better. Breakout player next year. 30+ goals, point-per-game player next season
Little: Excellent season, and your contract makes you a bargain. Hopefully 30 goals next season.
Ladd: can’t ask for much more. Please sign your extension offer already.
Burmistrov: should have been in minors this year. Not ready. Hope you grow up fast.
Slater: can’t wait to see you again next season. We missed you.
Cormier: I want to see a full healthy year next season. You should be one of our most physical players, we need that from you.
Thorburn: Bang for the buck, you are an excellent NHL player and we’re happy to have you for 3 more seasons.
Boulton: Love all that you do, hang around as a coach but I think your playing days are done.
Stewart: Disappointing. You are fast and talented, you should be better, much better. Not sure we sign you as an RFA or not…
Wheeler: Please stay. Really like your game, stick around.
Dvorak: Would like to see you for a full season too, stick around. Good all-around player.
Stapleton: Did some decent things out there, but you’re organizational depth, nothing more. Nice shootout goal earlier in the year.
Schremp: don’t know…did some good things…we’ll see if you make the team next year…
Maxwell: see above
Hainsey: solid as always, good season
Enstrom: very solid, but you tailed off down the stretch
Oduya: played well, not sure we’ll keep you after next season though, you might cost too much, plus with what we’ll be paying Buff…
Buff: Good season, not awesome, but I’m thrilled you signed for 5 years. You should be a winger next season.
Bogosian: Disappointing. You’re regressing. Next season is SOGOTP time. Prove me wrong…
Meyer: Bye
Stuart: I like your game, happy you signed to stay here.
Mason: expected a little better from you but overall I’m not disappointed. Tighten it up next year though please.
Pavelec: come on man, step up. You want this gig permanently or not?

Going into the 2011-2012 season, we have 16 guaranteed contracts, totaling 35.5M. Of our RFA’s, i only see 3 slam dunk contracts, and i’m guessing what they will sign for. I’m going to predict we sign Ladd (5M), Wheeler (3M), and Bogosian (1M), that’s another 9M, brings us to 44.5M, and assuming a 57M cap next season, that leaves us with 12.M or so in cap space, as of today. This might go down if we resign any of these guys: Stewart, Schremp, Maxwell, Dvorak, none of which would break the bank. I preduct Maxwell and Dvorak, maybe combined 2.5M-3M will keep both of them here, bringing us to about 9.5-10M in cap space.

The BIG IF’s are resigning Ladd and Wheeler, and they both need to stay. But assuming we can get deals done for them, what can we do next to improve this team? I ask this from a player-personnel context, not “we could use new owners” context. We all know that and it’s a dead horse on these boards. Depending on what our budget is for next year, I see our biggest trade chips being our 1st rd pick in this coming draft, Johnny Oduya, Hainsey (pricey D-man but if a top-team gets desperate for a solid blueliner, Duds wouldn’t mind trading his salary), and Antropov (same deal with his salary), and finally, our biggest trade asset would be our unused cap space.

I haven’t looked too hard at this season’s playoff teams, from a cap perspective, but as with every year, some team will have to do a Chicago-style cap purge before next season. Hopefully Duds has some ideas as to what players can be poached off some of these playoff team rosters.

That’s all I got for now. Just want to see some ideas.

Brendan

April 11th, 2011
1:31 pm

Alan R., I would definitely not bet the farm against the Red Wings. They could win it this year. They’re just not my pick. But if it happens, I won’t be stunned. To me, maybe the biggest issue is Jimmy Howard. I think he had a good rookie playoffs, last year. But he’s got to be good for the Red Wings to go all the way.

I don’t have the stats right here, but isn’t this something like 10 Central Division titles out of the last 11 years for Detroit. It’s something utterly dominant, like that. Chicago broke their run of titles last year.

Brendan

April 11th, 2011
6:00 pm

R.Stroz, step one is to contact the U.S. Library of Congress and ask about registering the term in your name.

Brendan

April 11th, 2011
9:25 pm

Ex-STH, thank you for playing, and for winning.

WBF, that’s called, “keepin’ it real.” I long for the day when we can cast votes of 105-points, and be serious about it.