NEWS: Thrashers head coach John Anderson has juggled the lines in advance of the team's three game road trip which begins Tuesday night in Montreal. Most notably, LW Ilya Kovalchuk will skate with Marty Reasoner and Chris Thorburn in a move that appears to be defensive-related.
REACTION: Kovalchuk needs to get going from a goal-scoring standpoint. In the past, he's had breakout stretches in which he scores by the bushelful. Last season, he recorded back-to-back hat tricks in early November, then added seven goals over the next eight games. Reasoner and Thorburn are both defensively responsible, which might give Ilya more of an opportunity to kick it up offensively.
But since we're singling out Kovalchuk, let's not forget some other players that need to show up on the trip. RW Eric Christensen has been AWOL for most of the season. A healthy scratch for the past two games, the forward has just one goal in 20 games and just three points in his last nine games. This past weekend was the second and third times of the season he's been a healthy scratch (also at New Jersey on 11/1). His M.O. in Pittsburgh was that of a streaky player who'd light it up for a week or two, then be invisible the next. I've seen a player that's lacked passion and jam up to this point.
NEWS: The Atlanta penalty killing unit ranks dead last in the NHL, 29th on the road and 28th at home.
REACTION: The Thrashers have lost eight, one goal games. In those games, their penalty killing unit has allowed one or more power play goals against. In fact, the penalty killing unit was 74.5% efficient over the first 10 games while just 71.8% effective over the last 10 games. And even though their efficiency has dropped as of late, the good news is they are allowing the opposition fewer chances with the man advantage. Over the first 10 games, they allowed an average of 5.1 power plays per game, compared to just 3.9 opposition power plays during the last 10 games. Shoring up the PK might be their quickest road to recovery in the standings.
TELEVISION INFORMATION: Tuesday's game in Montreal is not being televised back to Atlanta by Sportsouth. However, TSN is broadcasting the game in HD, which will be part of the Center Ice package (Directv, Channel 770). Wednesday's game in Ottawa will be aired on Sportsouth with JP and Darren calling the action.