After spiriting away the fourteen NHL teams that were not strong enough to make beyond the regular season, hockey’s Grim Reaper had a few days off to enjoy the opening games of the playoffs. But yesterday he had to gather up his hockey stick scythe, tear himself away from the Afterlife Bar & Café and make his way the windy city.
There the Chicago Blackhawks awaited his arrival, down three games to none in their matchup with the Vancouver Canucks
However, the Hawks were determined to not go quietly into the night and spanked the Presidents’ Trophy winners 7-2 to avoid being given the broom treatment.
David Bolland notched one goal and assisted on three others in the win while Patrick Sharp converted on a pair of power play goals in the third period to send the Reaper away empty handed on this night. Goalie Corey Crawford turned aside 21 of 23 Canuck shot for the win…and even helped out the offense by earning a secondary assist on Brian Campbell’s goal that broke a 1-1
After five days and nights of action, we already find one team on the brink of being eliminated from the 2011 NHL playoffs. Following Sunday’s 3-2 loss in Chicago, the Blackhawks now stand one game away from being given the broom treatment by the Canucks.
But before they drop the puck on Tuesday night however, we will know if Vancouver will be without the services of Raffi Torres who delivered a ferocious shot to the head of Brent Seabrook behind the Chicago goal. Torres was playing his first game since returning from a four-game suspension after a similar hit on Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle.
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville certainly thinks Torres deserves more time to sit and think about what he has done. After the game he said, “I thought it was a major [penalty] live and after seeing the replay, clearly”.
Either way, the Fat Lady may be delivering her first performance of the spring tomorrow night in the windy city.
Elsewhere around the league…a pair of other
To say that Thrashers defenseman Zach Bogosian had a down year would be quite the understatement. In his third NHL season he seemed to have slumped in almost all aspects of his game.
Offensively he scored only 5 goals, down from the 10 of last year despite duplicating the same 155 shots on goal total. His 17 overall points were 2 fewer than what he put up in his rookie campaign even though he played in 24 more games now as opposed to then.
But it was on the defensive end of the ice where his game seemed to take an even greater step backwards from his first two NHL seasons. Bogosian finished the year with a –27 rating, which continues his downward tend in that category. In his rookie campaign he posted a +11 then followed it up with a –18 last season.
The NHL playoffs are set to begin tomorrow, so now’s the time to pony up your thoughts and predictions on the eight matchups in the first round.
But first, for those who were asking about the “secret project” Audra Martin and I were discussing the other day, here it is. She produced this fine video about Dan Snyder and the award named in his memory. Bryan Little was honored with this award as the team unsung hero this season.
Nicely done, Audra.
Now…let’s just dive right in to our predictions, shall we?
#1 Washington vs. #8 NY Rangers: Season series won by the Rangers 3-1-0.
The Caps are coming off their fourth straight Southeastern Division championship. However, they so far have but one series win following the previous three. This year is a little different, as they seem to have discovered how to play a little defense. That, plus I think Bruce Boudreau and the Caps will come into this postseason with a bit of a chip on their shoulder looking to erase
Over the course of the next day or so I’ll be performing my annual spring chore of converting this on-line Thrashers forum into one where the NHL playoffs are the primary focus of discussion. But before I do, and before the recently wrapped-up season fades into a distant memory, let’s take time to review the good, the un-good and the ugly of the Thrashers season.
I’ve paired the ‘good’ and the un-good’ down to just a few, but I’m sure many of you will have others to add to each column. As for the most aesthetically unappealing aspect of this past Thrashers season…well, I think there is only one clear item worthy of that honor.
We’ll begin with…
Fantastic First Half: Speaking of distant memories…there was the good start that we witnessed here in Thrasherville last fall. Given the way things eventually tuned out it’s somewhat hard to believe that at one time this team was at one time 19-11-5 and sitting a top the Southeast Division. In fact,
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.
In most cases, when you lay an egg on Broadway it’s considered a bad thing. But not when your goalie lays one up on the scoreboard in New York, as was the case Thursday night.
Behind Ondrej Pavelec’s shutout performance, the Atlanta Thrashers played one of it’s best games in many, many moons and beat the New York Rangers 3-0 in a game that was very important to their playoff chances. It was the fourth shutout of the season for Pavelec…the first since blanking the Washington Capitals 1-0 just prior to the All Star break… and the sixth of his career.
Pavelec stopped 29 Ranger shots to drop the goose egg on the ice of Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers, on the other hand, looked like a team playing with their Pucker Factor Meter cranked up to 11. The loss leaves them sitting with 91 and only one game left, Saturday afternoon against the New Jersey Devils.
With the Thrashers 2010-11 season coming to a merciful end this week, we once again set our sights ahead towards a new season and fresh start next fall. One of the first steps in doing this is to take a look at those on the current roster who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on July 1 and consider whether or not they should be re-signed or allowed to skate off into the Thrasherville sunset.
There are three such Thrashers players slated for UFA status this summer…Eric Boulton, Radek Dvorak and Freddy Meyer. No, they’re not exactly the types you expect on the top of anyone’s UFA wish list. But nonetheless, they become our participants in this year’s “Should They Stay or Should They Go” free agent debate.
Total Voters: 308
Eric Boulton:Finishing his sixth season as a Thrasher, Boulton has found a niche as the team’s enforcer over the years. He’s been
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.
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