Just got back from Thrashers camp and wanted to give an update before sharing some thoughts about their new head coach John Anderson.
The team split into two groups this morning; those making the trip to Nashville and St. Louis for back to back pre-season games, and those who are staying put. Not making the trip are veterans Ilya Kovalchuk, Eric Perrin, Slava Kozlov and Kari Lehtonen. Some of the younger players staying back include Joey Crabb, Rylan Kaip, Joe Motzko, Zach Bogosian and Arturs Kulda.
The plan calls for taking enough players to fill out two rosters. I would imagine the veterans who play tonight in Nashville will likely sit out in St Louis on Friday and vice versa, although there will be some overlap. I'm sure some of the young kids getting longer looks may play in both nights, especially if earned. Johan Hedberg and Ondrej Pavlec are the goalies making the trip.
For the most part, the team remains healthy. Erik Christensen's MRI on his shoulder was negative, making him day-to-day. Bogosian participated in a full practice today as he tries to work his way through a nagging hip flexor.
So it's on to Nashville, where tonight, game play begins to dictate the decisions facing first year head coach John Anderson. And as a fan of the underdog, I'm excited to see what type of play style the Thrashers will incorporate.
In talking with Anderson, one of his early goals has been to create a prideful atmosphere around the dressing room. He emphasized that thought earlier today when we talked. He wants his players to take pride in their uniform, to play for one another, and to have fun. As for an expected style of play, he wants to be up tempo, engaging the defensemen in the rush to aid the forwards offensively. Look for the Thrashers blueliners to have the green light this season. In fact, Anderson singled out Garnet Exelby's play during training camp and his willingness to jump into the offense. The team's defensive philosophy seems to be in order to cut down on shots against, they need to be up ice and in the opponent's offensive zone a heck of alot more than has been the case in the past. We'll see if that holds true as the season unfolds.
It should be fun to watch.