Hi everyone. I'm back. Talk about your quiet weeks. I used the past several days to catch up on a few things here on the home front. Sorry for the lack of updates. It's a long season and one must pace themselves.
Before I get to tonight's tilt against Carolina (No TV, 680 The Fan), I wanted to talk about the topic that's always a hot button around these parts. Attendance.
Tonight should go a long way in determining how much the downturn in the economy is playing on ticket sales. Here's why:
1. The Thrashers haven't played a home game in 12 days. They return to home ice on a Friday night which has arguably been the best attended day of the week throughout the franchise's history.
2. The team is riding a season-best four game winning streak. They are hot and they have given the Atlanta faithful a reason to make the trip downtown tonight.
3. The game is against a division rival.
4. There is no other sports competition in the city tonight. The Hawks play in New Jersey, Georgia football is on the road at Auburn tomorrow and none of the local college basketball teams play at home either (at least not that I know of).
Earlier today, I was all set to do an attendance comparison of last years numbers through seven home games compared to this season. I was also going to break it down by the day of the week and compare weeknight attendance figures to weekend ones. But when you get right down to it, there haven't been enough home dates to draw accurate comparisons. The weekend dates are skewed because of the opening night sellout. The weeknight numbers are slanted because 50% of them have occurred on Tuesdays. So what's the point? It's just too early. I'll break it down at the 20 home game mark and see what we get.
Bottom line: I tagree with general manager Don Waddell when he told the AJC that attendance always lags during the first half of the season when college football is in full swing. Would a team with a winning record make a difference? Possibly. But facts are facts in that UGA football is a 100 year tradition, like it or not.
NUGGETS HEADING INTO TONIGHT'S TILT:
***With a win, the Thrashers would trail Carolina by just two points with a game in hand....ditto if the Washington Caps lose tonight in New Jersey (although ATL and WSH will have played 16 games each).
***Ilya Kovalchuk is the hottest of the hot on the ice, having tallied 3 goals and 5 assists for 8 points in his last four games. Other streaks include Jason Williams (4 goals, 2 assists in last 4 games), Bryan Little (3 goals, 4 assists last 4 games), Ron Hainsey (1 goal, 2 assists in last 2 games) and Eric Christensen (0 goals, 2 assists in last 2 games).
***Keep an eye on the Atlanta penalty killing units tonight. They were perfect last Sunday in Raleigh after allowing at least one power play goal in 12 straight games.
***Sooner or later, Eric Christensen will score. His 38 shots this season are the most of any player in the NHL that hasn't scored at least once. Time to bear down Eric!
***The Hurricanes offense has struggled. But one player red hot against the Thrashers is Eric Staal with 14 points in his last 7 games against Atlanta.
Enjoy the game.