Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wait........What Got Into Atlanta?

The Atlanta Thrashers have certainly had an eventful week. They have won three games over that time, including shutouts against the Canadiens and the Avalanche.

There were also several articles of note about the Thrashers that fans should be made aware of.

With that goal in mind, here we go with this week in Thrashers.

Friday 3/6

In front of nearly 15,000 people at Phillips Arena, Atlanta shut out the Montreal Canadiens 2-0. Bryan Little scored early in the first period, and that was enough for goalie Kari Lehtonen.

Kari saved all 25 shots Montreal fired at him in earning the shutout. He looked very calm and comfortable in goal.

Ilya Kovalchuk assisted on the first goal of the game, and also assisted on the empty net tally by Rich Peverley that iced the game for the Thrashers.

The three stars of the game were Ron Hainsey (1 A), Ilya Kovalchuk (2 A), and Kari Lehtonen (25 saves).

It was a game loaded with penalties, with the Thrashers taking a total of 56 PIM, and the Canadiens took 42 PIM.

Sunday 3/8

The Thrashers continued their winning ways at Phillips Arena, beating the Calgary Flames 5-2 and playing well once again.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored a goal and added an assist, and Bryan Little scored two goals in the victory. Kari Lehtonen also made 27 saves in the game.

New Flames acquisition Olli Jokinen managed a pitiful minus-three in the game, and Jordan Leopold, another trade deadline acquisition, also managed a minus-three and had one shot in 23 minutes of ice time.

Calgary captain Jarome Iginla had some complimentary words for the Thrashers after the contest.

"Determination has to be from the start," Iginla said. "The Thrashers were hungry tonight, and we were not competitive enough to create enough chances."

It was a splendid game all around for Atlanta, and the team continued its hot play of late in a big way, in a victory Bryan Little said was "for the fans."

The three stars of the game were Bryan Little (2 G), Tobias Enstrom (1 G), and Ilya Kovalchuk (1 G, 1 A).

Tuesday 3/10

In a game that was eerily similar to the game they played on Friday against the Canadiens, the Thrashers came out, played stiff defense, and shut out the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

The game was 0-0 for the first 38 minutes of the contest, until Zach Bogosian scored off of great passing from Kovalchuk and Bryan Little to make it 1-0. Then, less than two minutes later, Todd White struck gold on the power play and the Thrashers went into the break with a 2-0 lead and a tidal wave of momentum that overcame any resistance the Avalanche could put up.

With Colorado coming off a huge win against the Blackhawks on Sunday, there was a definite letdown in the way they played the game, and Atlanta took advantage by continuing their solid play up the middle and their ability to generate offense quickly.

Rich Peverley further cemented the similarities between this game and the Montreal game by adding an empty net goal to complete the festivities and send the Avs faithful home cursing existence once again.

Kari Lehtonen stopped all 35 shots he faced in getting his second shutout in three games.

The three stars of the game were Ilya Kovalchuk (2 A), Zach Bogosian (1 G), and Kari Lehtonen (35 Saves).

Articles to Check Out

-The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article talking about what has caused this new-found skill and zeal for playing. It is an interesting piece and worth your attention.

-Here is a Q and A with Bruce Levinson, a co-owner of the Thrashers who represents the team to the NHL Board of Governors, in which he praises coach John Anderson and provides some insight into how the team is run. You can check it out here.

-The Thrashers' next game is tonight against the Edmonton Oilers at 9:30pm EDT. The game can be seen on Sports South, and the recap can be found here afterwards. Good night (or I guess I should say good morning) Blueland!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Thrashers Beat Hurricanes 5-3 in Comeback Triumph

The Atlanta Thrashers overcame a two goal deficit to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 in front of nearly 18,000 raucous fans at Phillips Arena.

Ilya Kovalchuk had five points (2 G, 3 A) in the game, and Rich Peverley added two goals (including his team leading fourth game-winning goal of the season) to get the team the win.

The game started agonizingly enough, with the Hurricanes taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. Tuomo Ruutu and Sergei Samsonov provided the goals in the frame for the 'Canes.

In the second period, the play definitely started to turn in the favor of Atlanta, and with 36 seconds left in the frame, Ilya Kovalchuk, on the dead sprint, fired a shot over the shoulder of the crouching Cam Ward that barely snuck in under the bar to send the game to intermission at 2-1. It was a thing of beauty, and it for the first time brought to attention the number of vocal supporters that the Thrashers had assembled for the game.

The third period begun much like the first one ended, with the Hurricanes scoring a goal and probably dealing a death blow to Atlanta's chances for the evening. The Thrashers, however, had other ideas.

Rich Peverley brought the team to within a goal at 3-2 with a tap-in goal for a puck that Cam Ward thought he had covered up. Then, in a flurry of activity in front of the Carolina net, several Thrashers players peppered Cam Ward with shots before Kovie pinged a shot off the post. Ward flailed around on the ice hoping to God he had covered the puck up, but Todd White flipped the unattended rubber biscuit into the net to knot the game up at three apiece.

After an "Ax Men"-worthy chop sent the Thrashers on the power play, Rich Peverley made the most of the opportunity and snuck the puck past Ward to put Atlanta up by one with less than two minutes to go in the game. Peverley has proven with his 21 points in 20 games that he is the best waiver wire addition thus far in the NHL season, and possibly has upped his prominence on the team's attacking units.

The Hurricanes mounted one final assault, and they finally relinquished the puck in the waning seconds, and Kovalchuk emphatically slapped the puck into the empty Carolina net for a 5-3 win and a roar from the crowd that has been woefully lacking at Phillips Arena this season.

The story of the game could easily have been Kovie's five points, or Peverley's team leading fourth game winning goal, but instead, the story of this game turned out to be none other than the Atlanta fans. Nearly 18,000 people showed up at the game tonight, and their voices were heard loud and clear throughout. With that in mind, the first star of tonight's game should be the hockey fans of Atlanta. They showed spirit and enthusiasm, and here's hoping that this is the start of more good things to come. Good night Blueland.

PS: Here's a totally self-serving link to my article on The Hockey Writers (which will be my last article as a full-time writer for the team. Click here