Friday, February 27, 2009

Recap? You're Talkin About a Recap?

Considering that I have been up for 28 straight hours, I was going to sit down and write a recap of the game, but I decided not to. I apologize profusely for not writing one, but I promise that I will have a good Thrashers article in the very near future. Thanks for your understanding, and in the meantime, go ahead and check out the recap from the Thrashers' website by clicking here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

As Deadline Draws Near, the Thrashers May Move Significant Pieces

With less than a week to go before the NHL trade deadline, the Atlanta Thrashers are continuing to look for ways to improve their team.

Having already moved Mathieu Schneider, the Thrashers are still interested in moving Ron Hainsey and his contract, which will pay him $4.25 million for the next five seasons, and Niclas Havelid, who will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

Rumors are also swirling today that the team is having difficulty in its negotiations with the agent for netminder Kari Lehtonen, and are seriously considering moving him before Wednesday's deadline.

"In my opinion, I'd like to re-sign him," Thrashers coach John Anderson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I've seen what he can do. That's more of (Lehtonen's) decision than ours. I can't speak for (GM Don Waddell). I haven't sat down particularly to talk to him about Kari. I'm sure Don would love to re-sign Kari."

Teams rumored to be interested, according to the report on, include the Senators, the Flyers (but probably only if they can move Martin Biron), and the Red Wings (the most likely destination according to a couple of sources).

The reason for the trade rumors is based on Lehtonen's contract status, which makes him a restricted free agent at season's end. He also would be arbitration eligible, and negotiations have not been going well up til this point.

The natural pick to replace Kari in goal should he be traded is youngster Ondrej Pavelec, who at the age of 20 just won AHL Player of the Week, going 3-1 with a 1.25 GAA and .963 save percentage for the Wolves.

This comes on the heels of a stretch where Lehtonen has played some of his best hockey of the season, beating the Ducks in Anaheim and holding teams like the Blackhawks and Sharks in check in the process.

Random Notes:

-Read an interesting article about Tobias Enstrom replacing Ron Hainsey on the Thrashers' first power play line. My initial thought is that this was a subtle signal that Atlanta is close to moving Ron. Judge for yourself by clicking here.

-Another interesting profile from the folks at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about youngster Colin Stuart, who is racking up short-handed goals for Atlanta as of late. Here's the link: "Stuart, Thrashers Thriving Short-Handed"

-In about 20 minutes, the Thrashers are taking the ice against the Washington Capitals in the nation's capital. Stay tuned to the blog for the game recap when the final horn sounds.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thrashers Top Avalanche 4-3 In Riotous Return to Phillips Arena

The Atlanta Thrashers beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 at Phillips Arena on Tuesday night. The Thrashers finally returned home after an eventful West Coast road trip saw them go 2-1-1 and score gobs of goals.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 10th goal in his last eight games, and Marty Reasoner also scored. Tobias Enstrom and Rich Peverley also scored short-handed goals for the Thrashers, continuing what has been an extremely promising trend of aggressiveness when the team is down a man.

Peter Budaj took the loss for the Avs, and he looked shaky from the start. He gave up goals on two of the first three shots that he faced, and he repeatedly played the puck too aggressively and nearly allowed the Thrashers to make it a blowout before fans had even settled in their seats.

Reasoner's goal with eight minutes left in the first period made it a 3-0 hockey game, and many thought that the rout was on (at least those of us watching the game on NHL GameCenter and using the chat room thought).

It started with Milan Hejduk. Putting on his offense-badge, Milan hammered a puck past Kari Lehtonen with a minute and a half remaining in the first to send the game to intermission 3-1 in favor of Atlanta.

Coming out of the break, the Avs looked lost at times to begin the period. The Thrashers were unable to make them pay for their loose play, however, and the Avalanche made them pay. Milan Hejduk scored with nine minutes left in the second period, and the Avs were threatening again on a power play just four minutes later.

After some pretty poor passing, Peverley made his move, snagged a wayward pass, and broke down the ice and scored to make it 4-2 and once again ensure that the Thrashers would not be defeated in the game. Atlanta continued to play solid defense and the second intermission came with the score 4-2 and the fans feeling pretty content with the effort.

In the third period, it was once again a struggle. Both sides were playing with a measured tone, not wanting to risk giving up the all important edge. The Avalanche tried and tried to put the puck in the net throughout the period, and they couldn't take advantage of some opportunities that Atlanta gave them.

Finally, with a minute and a half left in the game, Chris Stewart scored a goal while Colorado had six men on the ice to cut the lead to one. After the clock wound down and hearts around the arena stopped pounding underneath the sky blue jerseys, the Thrashers emerged from the smoke with a 4-3 win. Aided by a late penalty to Colorado, the Thrashers had proven that yes, they can win at home too.

The three stars of the game were:

3rd Star: I. Kovalchuk (1 G)

2nd Star: E. Perrin (1 A)

1st Star: T. Enstrom (1 G, 1 A)

My take on the games' stars: Putting Perrin among the three stars is a feat that could only be accomplished by a doofus. Not putting Rich Peverley, who only had a goal and an assist (and that goal was the game winning goal, by the way) in the game, as a star was dumb enough, but the guy who assisted on the first goal of the game was a star. Does that make sense? No. It doesn't.

Random Notes: This win was only the fifth for Atlanta at home in their last 21 games. Ilya Kovalchuk's goal was his 20th in the team's last 24 games.

Atlanta's next game will be Thursday at 6pm against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center. The game can be seen on Sports South, and features two of the game's best left wings in Ilya Kovalchuk and some guy named Ovechkin. Never heard of him. Anyway, check that out, and good night from Blueland.

Thrashers Today: A Preview of Avs-Thrashers, and Some Links to Enjoy

To kick off the links portion of the blog, we will start with some trade rumors involving the Blueland Baddies. As you can see from my Twitter update from earlier today, the Atlanta Thrashers are rumored to be shopping a couple of their key defensemen.

According to the Ottawa Sun (not exactly the most reliable source of information) league sources are indicating that the Thrashers are looking to move Niclas Havelid and Ron Hainsey before the trade deadline. There isn't any more really listed on the site in terms of details, but if you want to check out some of the other rumors, feel free to check out the full article.

-The Thrashers are getting ready to play five games in their next six in the cozy confines of Phillips Arena. This should be good news for a team getting back from a long road trip right? Well, maybe not. A couple of good articles deal with this issue.

First, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, we have Mike Knobler's take on the return of the Thrashers to Atlanta ice. He cites some scary stats and gives the players' perspective on the situation as well.

Second, from The Hockey Writers, we have, well, my take on the situation. This was inspired by the AJC article, and I included a lot of stats to back up the assertion that the Thrashers are better off away from Atlanta this season, and I also threw in a little of my sarcasm for effect.

-Finally, the Avalanche are coming a-calling to Phillips Arena to take on the Thrashers. According to the game preview on the Thrashers' website, Peter Budaj is expected to be in goal for the Avs, and he is a terrible 0-7-1 in his last 8 road starts. Hopefully Atlanta can get on him early.

For all the news regarding this game (including whether Paul Stastny will play), go right on ahead and click here.

Well, that's that for now. If any news breaks on the Thrashers, be sure to check back for my take, and a game recap will be up within an hour of the final horn at Phillips tonight, so stay tuned for that. Go Thrashers!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thrashers Lose to Sharks 3-1 in Duel in Tank

The Atlanta Thrashers wrapped up their four game West Coast road trip with a game against the West-leading Sharks, and they put up a fight that even the Sharks weren't expecting.

Unfortunately, the team went down 3-1 to the Sharks, but in the process, they showed some true grit.

Bryan Little scored a power play goal in the contest, and Kari Lehtonen made 28 saves in the loss. Ilya Kovalchuk's goal streak also came to an end in the contest.

The game featured several questionable calls and no-calls that went against the Thrashers, including a bogus hooking penalty against Bryan Valabik that led to the Sharks second goal of the third period and ended up being the game winner.

The first Sharks goal also came on a no-call, with a Thrasher catching a wicked cross check in the back that wasn't called and enabled Ryane Clowe to score. Aggravating all around for Thrasher faithful.

If you want a more complete recap of the contest, and also are interested to know my opinion as to what we learned about the Thrashers on this trip, feel free to check out my piece on The Hockey Writers. I always appreciate feedback, so feel free to email me.

The Thrashers are next playing Tuesday night against the Avalanche in Atlanta. The game starts at 7pm and can be seen on Sports South. Until then, enjoy the rest of your weekend, and I'll keep you updated.

Thrashers-Sharks Preview Highlights

Was just checking out the Thrashers' website, and the preview for the game tonight against the Sharks has a lot of bad omens for the game tonight. I'd say that the Thrashers don't have much of a shot against San Jose, but if you had told me that the Thrashers would be on a five game points streak on the road, I wouldn't have believed you. Enough about me though. Let's get to the good stuff.

Note: If you want to read the entire game preview, you can visit the Thrashers' website.

-The Thrashers are 0-4-0 with a tie all-time at HP Pavillion. The Sharks are also ridiculously good at home this season, having only lost twice in regulation at home this season.

-Bryan Little has six points in his last three games, and Ilya Kovalchuk has scored goals in six straight contests coming in to this one.

-The Thrashers have only beaten the Sharks one time in their ten all-time meetings in an overtime game in 2002.

-In the last 22 games, Kovalchuk has 19 goals and eight assists. He's taking this "captain" thing really seriously.

The game starts at 4pm EST on Sports South, and is available on NHL Gamecenter. Go Thrashers!

Friday, February 20, 2009

What Made News This Week: A Recap of the Week in Thrashers

Good morning Thrashers fans! There are a few articles here and there that I feel like you should check out. So, in the spirit of Puck Daddy, here are today's headlines in Thrashers that you guys should check out:

-For an interesting article on Zach Bogosian and Nathan Oystrick that I just read in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, click click here

-Sad about the departure of Mathieu Schneider? Well, Mike Knobler of the AJC wrote an interesting blog about the trade to the Canadiens, and said that the Thrashers actually got the better end of the deal. It focused mostly on salary cap relief, but there's other good stuff there too. Some of the comments at the end are surprisingly astute.

-One last piece from the AJC: they apparently have elected a fan to write about the team for the newspaper online site. This pieces has the most random ramblings you are likely to find (outside of my diary of the Thrashers-Yotes game) about the Thrashers, and also provides some solid insight in the process.

-Interesting fan site that links directly from the Thrashers website. It's called I've Become One and it is a fully interactive website where you can scratch your itch for all things Thrashers.

-Finally, from the Blueland Blog, Ben Wright posted interviews with the players concerning their current four game West Coast swing. Several players provided unique perspectives from the battlefield (of course most of them are enjoying going to new cities).

That should keep the fans busy until the game tomorrow against the Sharks, which will wrap up the trip for the boys. It will be on TV at 4pm EST on SportsSouth. Enjoy!

Thrashers-Coyotes Recap: Atlanta Loses Duel in the Desert

For a less traditional recap of this game, check out the running diary that I wrote about the game on The Hockey Writers (my other website):

"Thrashers Invade Desert, Lose to Coyotes"

The Thrashers went in to Phoenix looking for a franchise record fifth straight road win, and the Coyotes were looking to avoid a seventh straight home defeat, which also would have been a franchise record.

In a game that featured its fair share of physical play and questionable officiating, the Coyotes beat the Thrashers in the shootout by a score of 4-3. The shootout, which lasted eight shooters on each side, finally ended when Daniel Carcillo made his first career shootout goal to get Mikkel Tellqvist the win.

Erik Christensen got the scoring started six minutes into the contest with a power play goal. The hero of the Los Angeles game, Eric notched his fifth goal and continued his solid production of late. Perhaps he's auditioning for other teams to try to trade for him? Stay tuned on that front.

About three and a half minutes later, Joakim Lindstrom scored to tie the game at one on another power play goal. The Coyotes ended up outshooting the Thrashers in the period, with Atlanta only getting three shots in on Mikkel Tellqvist.

Phoenix struck twice to start in the second period, with Viktor Tikhonov and Steven Goertzen scoring goals for the Coyotes.

Just when it looked like the Thrashers were in for a long night, they struck with eight minutes to go in the period, when Ilya Kovalchuk found Bryan Little on a fantastic centering pass to make it a one goal game. It was Kovalchuk's eighteenth point since being named captain of the Thrashers, and it was Little's 24th goal of the season.

The third period was a defensive struggle throughout, with the teams trading scoring chances that their defenses snuffed out. The Coyotes did an especially good job of shutting down a lot of Atlanta's offensive attacks, and I was impressed with their effort throughout the period.

Just when it looked bleakest, Kovalchuk did what he does best: he took the game over. With 53 seconds left, Kovalchuk pounded home a juicy rebound off the blocker of Tellqvist to tie the game at three apiece. As the Coyote crowd groaned its disapproval, the Thrashers ensured that they would get at least a point in a game that they had trailed in for 37 minutes.

The overtime was a physical battle that saw few scoring chances, and the defensive struggle continued even into the shootout, as both goalies exchanged save after save, before Daniel Carcillo finally scored to give the Coyotes the victory.

It was a good physical game for the Thrashers, who are playing some of their best hockey of the season right now. It may be too late for them to salvage a run at the playoffs, but they are setting themselves up in prime position to make a good run next season.

The Thrashers' next game will be on Saturday at 4pm EST against the Sharks. It can be seen on Sports South.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thrashers-Coyotes: A Game Bigger Than It Seems

18,545 screaming fans filled Phillips Arena on January 5th, 2007 to see the Atlanta Thrashers take on the Phoenix Coyotes in a game that was a taut, back and forth battle down the stretch.

Marian Hossa scored two goals, and the Blueland Baddies (I'm trying to come up with a pet name for the Thrashers, so bear with me if these are horrible) had a 4-1 lead early in the third period. Then, in the blink of an eye, Ladislav Nagy scored for Phoenix a minute later to make it 4-2.

Later in the period, Shane Doan knocked in a power play goal, and less than three minutes later, Owen Nolan banged home the tying goal, and the air was sucked out of the building.

When Yanic Perrault scored a goal in overtime to win the game for the Coyotes, it was almost anti-climactic. The damage had already been done when the fans had been taken out of the contest with the third period barrage by the Desert Dogs.

I watched this game on television (a benefit of being in Arizona for that week), and it was almost palpable how the momentum the Thrashers had built up was completely reversed like the engines on the Titanic before it hit that ill-fated iceberg.

Why do I bring up this game? While it serves as a nice and tidy recap of the last time these teams tangled, but it serves a bigger purpose: it shows how far this team that we all love has fallen in the past two years.

Think about it: this team that lost this heartbreaking game was playing in front of a full building, and they actually made the playoffs in 2007. They still had players like Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, and Braydon Coburn who caused havoc when they were on the ice.

They were an up and coming franchise, building towards future success in a league that had seen a spate of Sun Belt franchises winning Stanley Cups (Carolina, Dallas, and Tampa Bay come immediately to mind), and all was looking good in Atlanta.

Then, everything started to slowly unravel, and we have now come to this point, with the team being unable to even give away tickets to games, and the morale in Blueland is at an all-time low.

This game represents more to the viewer than meets the eye. It's not just two teams facing off in the midst of unparalleled economic crisis, but it's also a measure of how far the Thrashers have truly fallen in the psyche of the Atlanta sports scene.

Brighter days will hopefully come soon for the Hotlanta Hooligans, but for right now, we are riding through some dark ages.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thrashers Depose Kings 7-6 in Wild Game

Before I start the game recap, let me just commend those of you who stayed up through the end of this game, as it ended up lasting until around 1:30am EST.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored two more goals, and Zach Bogosian added three assists as the Thrashers won a wild game against the Los Angeles Kings 7-6 in a shootout.

Bryan Little, Todd White, Marty Reasoner, and Colin Stuart also added goals for the Thrashers, as they had to fight off a Kings team who scored three third period goals to force the game into overtime.

The game also featured a monster four point performance from Anze Kopitar, and the Thrashers blowing two leads of three goals.

The Thrashers got the festivities started early when they scored three goals in the first eight minutes of the game, and they managed to get Jonathan Quick sent to the bench for the first time this season.

The Thrashers did surrender three power play goals to the Kings, including one to Kopitar with five seconds left to send the game into overtime. They also had a power play goal, and scored their third short-handed goal in two nights.

Kovalchuk has continued his hot play of late, scoring three more points and getting a goal in his fifth straight game. Since he became captain, he has 13 goals and four assists, and has played with a lot more enthusiasm recently.

In addition to the game, the Thrashers also sent Mathieu Schneider to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a conditional first round pick, and also two more picks in the next two drafts.

The Thrashers will next take the ice on Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes. The game will start at 9pm EST and can be seen on SportsSouth.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thrashers Dump Ducks 8-4

The Thrashers beat the Ducks 8-4 on Sunday night, beating the tar out of a team that had won its previous two games.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored a hat trick in the game, his first since last March against Calgary, and Rich Peverley, Bryan Little, Niclas Havelid, Colin Stuart, and Colby Armstrong also added goals. Kari Lehtonen got 31 saves in the winning effort.

It also marked the first time since December 5th, 2003 that the Thrashers defeated the Ducks in Anaheim.

Kovalchuk has been playing better in his previous games, and the newfound enthusiasm he has produced hasn't been lost on his coach.

"I think he has really been skating well the last three or four games," Atlanta coach John Anderson said. "He is starting to feel like himself again. He's hounding the puck, he's chasing the puck. He gets it -- he's dangerous, obviously."

The game was the first one of a treachorous road trip for the Thrashers, with stops forthcoming in Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Jose.

The next game will start at 10:30 EST on Monday night against the Kings. It can be seen on SportsSouth.