Friday, November 7, 2008


Don't look now, but the Atlanta Thrashers are becoming more resilient by the day.

Witness their come from behind, 4-3 win last night against the New York Islanders.

Witness their bounce back performance on Sunday in the 5-3 win over Florida after a tough game in New Jersey just 20 hours prior.

Thursday's game started out as the typical second period train wreck. The Islanders scored twice in the span of 0:17 and led 3-1 after 40 minutes of play. According to reports, head coach John Anderson got a bit loud with his team during the second intermission. They took his talk to heart by coming out and scoring twice in the opening 1:17 of the third period to tie the game. Finally, when Tobias Enstrom's point shot was deflected out high by an Islanders defender, The Thrashers had finally gotten the break Anderson had been looking for.

With that said, this team is starting to do some of the little things to be successful.

*The power play came through with a goal last night and the penalty killing unit killed off the final four Islanders man advantages in the game.

*The Thrash dominated in the face-off circle winning 64% of the time. Jason Williams won 11 of 16 draws while Erik Christensen won all five he took.

Slava Kozlov had a pair of goals and continues to light it up offensively. Now that Bryan Little is drawing more attention, Kozlov is being afforded more space by the opposition which has resulted in more chances. Plus, he's healthy, unlike last season when he battled injuries.

Friday's game in Buffalo (7:30pm, Sportsouth) will be a chance for the team to run their win streak to three games, something they haven't done since February. The last time the Thrashers won three straight in regulation was

Monday, November 3, 2008


Now that's more like it!

Sunday's Thrashers win over Florida ended a six game skid and, hopefully, will give the team some confidence heading into a stretch in which they play seven straight games against Eastern Conference opponents.

How I saw it:

Ilya Kovalchuk got rolling offensively with a pair of goals. Based on the current roster, the Thrashers need Kovalchuk's offense each and every game if they are to be successful. On the road trip to New York and New Jersey, he seemed disengaged. He was late in coverage on the left wing boards when Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi scored the game winner. When Kovalchuk hits the score sheet, the Thrashers typically have success. But even beyond that, his offensive leadership seems to elevate the team's entire game and focus. It's critical for him to get hot right now.

The win was a team effort. No passengers as had been the case in previous games. The defensemen engaged in the offense once again. Erik Christensen played much better after being benched Saturday in New Jersey. The power play chipped in. Ondrej Pavelec was solid between the pipes. The Thrashers transition game was crisp, catching Florida flat-footed several times resulting in several odd-man chances.

Finally, kudos to defenseman Garnet Exelby. After the game Saturday in New Jersey, he called out his team's effort (or lack thereof) and used some of the sharpest words of criticism in franchise history.

"What has to happen at this point is everybody has to go home and dust off their shiny little mirror and take a look at themselves, because I don't think everyone in this room is toeing the line," he told Mike Knobler of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

He went on to defend goaltender Johan Hedberg and how the Thrashers offered him no support in the 6-1 loss.

"It's up to the rest of us to hold everybody on this team accountable, because when you have a guy like Johan Hedberg in net, who arguably is the best man that I've ever met in professional sports, and you come out and play like that in front of him, when he only gets to play one game every ten games, I think it's embarrassing. It makes me sick to my stomach to think our team came out that way for this guy," Exelby added.

Bottom line: It needed to be said. And I'm sure it allowed everyone in the Atlanta locker room to re-focus for Sunday's game. Exelby is an honest player who's having a renaissance season playing with Ron Hainsey. I found his comments brutally honest......and long overdue.

Looking ahead: The Thrashers host the New York Islanders on Thursday, play at Buffalo Friday, then engage Carolina for a pair of games next week.

Looks to me like a great way to get back into the Eastern Conference playoff race.