Posts tagged “Thrashers”

Wings 1, Thrashers 5

Yeah, that was brutal. I don’t know if half the team was too excited about Kris Draper’s Thanksgiving Extravaganza or what, but they were not prepared for a fast and surprisingly dangerous Thrashers team. Oh well. These games happen. Given that it’s a holiday, I’m not interested in doing a full postmortem. Seems to me this is the kind of loss you typically talk about forgetting and moving on from, so I’m going to do that.

It being Thanksgiving here in the States, it seems appropriate to do a short list along these lines:

  1. In spite of some quibbles over the means, I’m thankful the Wings have started the season out with such a great 13-4-2 record. Given that they have it in them to be even better, that record’s pretty freaking impressive.
  2. I’m thankful Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are off to such great offensive starts. Sure they’re not close to the leaders, but their defensive responsibilities coupled with that production make them the most valuable forwards in the League.
  3. I’m thankful Jimmy Howard and “sohopmore slump” don’t appear to go together. The Wings would be in poor shape right now if they had to rely on Chris Osgood as heavily as they’ve had to rely on Jimmy. I’m also thankful Osgood’s nearing a return, though. Jimmy needs some rest.
  4. I’m thankful Lidstrom’s back in Norris form. Or rather, Hart form.
  5. And I’m thankful I get to watch all of this with the best hockey fans in the world through the miracle of the internet.

Last night was a downer, but I really believe we’re headed for a heck of a year. Happy Thanksgiving, Americans, and happy mid-day football day, the rest of you!

Game Day Notes: @ Atlanta

Update (1:33 PM): It’s official: Hudler’s scratched and in the doghouse.

Khan also has the lines and pairings:

Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom
Abdelkader-Filppula-Franzen
Cleary-Modano-Bertuzzi
Miller-Helm-Eaves

Lidstrom-Stuart
Ericsson-Rafalski
Kronwall-Salei

Abdelkader sure benefits from the Hudler scratching, eh? - Matt

… This is the one and only game between the Wings and the Thrashers this season. If Clark’s chart is up to date, the Wings lead the all-time series 9-3-0. Atlanta won the last meeting, 2-0 a year ago. I had a pretty negative reaction to that one…

… The Thrashers themselves are 9-9-3 this year, but have won two in a row so for the moment they have to be feeling pretty good about themselves. The first win came over Washington 5-0. Then they reverted back to their level and squeaked out a 2-1 OT win over the Islanders. They’ve been off since Sunday, like the Wings.

… They’re in the middle of a six-game homestand. They’ve played in front of an average of 10,449 fans in an 18,545-seat arena (based on announced numbers). It’ll be interesting to see the number after tonight.

… Apparently Dustin Byfuglien, that noted adherent to the Favre/Wednesday School of Pronunciation, has had a good start to the season. So much so that questions like this are leaking from the minds of pundits. I don’t know about you, but I’d take even one year of my young defensemen watching Nick Lidstrom over a career of Dustin Byfuglien. If for no other reason than they wouldn’t learn how to improperly pronounce the letters b, y, f, u, g, l, i, e and n strung together.

All kidding about his name aside, are we really in a place where Byfuglien and Lidstrom can be pitted against each other in any way that doesn’t leave Lidstrom the winner by a light year? Is the media that tired of Nick?

… Anyway. I kind of like this perspective from Thrashers Nation going into the game.

… Bryan Little and Fredrik Modin did not practice yesterday due to injury. Doesn’t look like they’ll be in.

… Ondrej Pavelec will get the start. He’s allowed three goals over the past three games, so it’s safe to say he’s hot.

… The Wings improved to 13-3-2 with a win over Calgary Sunday evening.

… It sounds like Jiri Hudler may be the odd man out tonight, as Babcock is indicating he’s considering having both Eaves and Miller in the lineup. The team needs to get Hudler going, but there is a point where he needs to stop getting bones tossed to him. Maybe a few whacks over the head with one will help him find some motivation.

… Cleary left the game with an upper body injury, but is good to go tonight. Same with Ericsson, who came back after a puck hit his ankle, and Modano, who was shaken up late in the game.

Chris Osgood skated yesterday, but not with the team. He’s thinking he’ll be back with them and back on the bench after Thanksgiving.

… Jimmy Howard will start again.

… The Wings need to be careful not to take the Thrashers for granted tonight. As Atlanta showed against Washington, they’re capable of taking teams by surprise so any let up in the attitude that closed out the Flames game and the Wings could be in trouble. Just take care of business.

Wings 0

Who cares what the rest of the score was? What matters is that goose egg there. Do not come to me citing the 40 shots—they mean next to nothing. This was a sad effort.

I wish the Thanksgiving break were longer for the team so they could spend some time taking stock and maybe decide to stop making excuses. Maybe one day with family and food will be enough. I hope so.

They’ve got two games against dangerous, but highly beatable, opponents coming up. How are they going to handle them? Like last night? I sure hope not because the result will be the same.

It’s time to stop “plugging away like we’ve been”  (not a direct quote, just a general sense of mindset) and start doing something different. The same “plugging” is not cutting it.

It’s time to right the ship. Three quarters of the season remains, but don’t take time for granted. Get it done now.

By the way, Happy Thanksgiving, folks. Among many other things, I’m thankful it’s not March.

Game Day Open Thread: vs. Atlanta

So, the Thrashers are an even 10-7-3 so far this season and 0-1-2 in their last three. The Wings are 11-7-4 and 1-1-1 in their last three. We’re not exactly talking a hot matchup here. Which may be what both teams need: a kind of blank slate meeting with another team that’s hit a rough patch.

Could be interesting. Could suck. Which will it be? You can find out tonight at 7:30. If you have FSD+.

Three more thoughts:

Eaves got shafted.

Babcock’s defense rotation will be interesting.

Ilya Kovalchuk’s shot vs. Jimmy Howard. Scary.

Wings 6, Thrashers 3

… This was one of the Wings more dominant offensive performances this season, I thought. Although they didn’t crack 40 shots, they seemed to be toying with the Thrashers all night. They were moving the puck like they do at the peak of their skill, and drove the Thrashers crazy with their ability to keep the play alive.

… Unfortunately, the defense wasn’t quite as good, allowing 34 shots against the 28th-place Thrashers. Atlanta played with pride and have some strong offensive ability, but something more in the range of a mid-20s shot total would have been preferrable. The Wings definitely lost some focus in the third period, when the Thrashers broke the shutout and got 15 shots.

… Henrik Zetterberg had a heck of a game, I thought. His individual effort on the Franzen goal had me thinking how glad I am he’ll be around 12 more years. You can see the tailend of that effort in the NHL.com replay.

… Speaking of Franzen, he had that “I shoot, I score” air about him again last night. I hope it stays there.

… Marian Hossa also had a good night. I’m amazed that the Thrashers fans were booing him, like he had any choice in the trade to Pittsburgh. Ridiculous.

… Datsyuk has the hot stick now, with two laser goals in two games.

… Chris Osgood had  great game, despite the third period goals (he had little chance on any of them). He made some huge saves, including this one on Rich Peverley in the first. He’s not showing signs of slowing down.

… It was good to see Hudler break his scoring drought with a nice breakaway goal. A good pass from Lebda set it off.

… Jonathan Ericsson continues to impress. He’s making great decisions with the puck and looking good defensively.

… Tomas Kopecky seems to be the object of a lot of hard hits lately. I don’t know if that’s because he hasn’t picked up on how to avoid them at the NHL level, or if he’s a specific target, or what, but he got hammered twice in just a few minutes last night (video of one here). With his injury record, it’s amazing he hasn’t gotten hurt again on one of those.

… Derek Meech also took a big hit, but his was a bit nastier. He got a mouthful of Joseph Crabb’s elbow in the first period when the two players were going for the puck along the boards. The referee’s blindness in that case was pretty severe, as it was a blatant penalty.

… Here’s hoping Don Cherry is too busy tearing Alexander Ovechkin a new one for his over-the-top 50th goal celebration (see also) to say anything about Mikael Samuelsson’s aggressive hug with Nathan Oystrick.  George Malik has Sammy’s explanation for his fighting tactics at the end of his game wrap-up.

… Did anyone else find Larry Murphy to be a little off during the broadcast? He was interrupting Ken Daniels, talking too loudly, and generally acting like a bad copy of a color guy. I don’t know if it’s due to the time between color stints or what, but I kept getting distracted by it.

… The Wings always seem to have a large fan contingent at their home games, but Phillips was like the Joe last night. The Wings fans dominted the cheers and the seats, it seemed. It’s a pretty powerful testimony to the strength of the Wings’ brand.

… The defensive effort wasn’t terrible, so I don’t want to give that impression. They just got a little bit too loose and allowed the Thrashers too much. They’ll want to tighten down for Monday’s game in Calgary, as well as Tuesday’s in Edmonton.

Game Day Notes: @ Atlanta

Update (3:49 PM): Correction: Lilja isn’t with the team in Atlanta, but may still join them tomorrow for the trip to Calgary. Early-morning, bleary-eyed mistake on my part. Sorry about that. - Matt

Update (2:46 PM): The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the lines the Thrashers used in practice yesterday. - Matt

Update (1:37 PM): Ansar Khan reports that Filppula is in tonight and confirms that the lines will be the same as in practice yesterday (as listed below). Johan Franzen was sick this morning, but will play.

Khan also confirms that Kovalchuk, Bogosian, and Hainsey are in for Atlanta. - Matt

… This is the second meeting with Atlanta this season. The Wings won the first, 5-3 on Oct. 24.

… The Thrashers have won six of eight so far this month, but are coming off a 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh Tuesday. They knocked off the Capitals the night before, 5-1.

… Their recent success doesn’t wipe out  pretty mediocre season that has them 17 points out of  playoff spot in 13th place and with a 29-36-6 record overall.

… Captain Ilya Kovalchuk went down with a bad back on the 13th, but it sounds like he’s ready to return to the lineup.

… Zach Bogosian (knee), victim of a questionable hit by the Penguins’ Matt Cooke, should also be suiting up tonight, as should Ron Hainsey (leg).

… Jim Slater (shoulder) is out and Boris Valabik (shoulder) is questionable.

… Kari Lehtonen will get the start for the Thrashers.

… The Wings kicked off a three-game winning streak Saturday with a 5-2 decision over St. Louis. They followed that up with a win against Columbus Sunday and a comeback win over Philadelphia on Tuesday. They are playing some of their best hockey of the year.

… The win in Columbus clinched a playoff spot, but it’ll still be a while before they clinch the division thanks to Chicago’s strong season.

They do have sole possession of first place overall with 103 points, though a San Jose win last night cut their lead to just one. The Sharks now have only one game in hand, but will be back to two after tonight. The two schedules finally sync on April 2nd with both teams’ 77th game.

… The Wings will be without Andreas Lilja (concussion) for the 8th straight game tonight, but took him on the trip in hopes that he might be able to return to practice while the team is in Alberta for a two-game stint against Calgary and Edmonton early next week.

… Valtteri Filppula (back) is questionable for tonight after leaving practice early yesterday.

… Tomas Holmstrom (knee) is definitely out.

… Projected lines and pairings, based on yesterday’s practice:

Franzen-Datsyuk-Samuelsson
Cleary-Zetterberg-Hossa
Hudler-Filppula-Kopecky
Meech-Draper-Maltby

Lidstrom-Rafalski
Kronwall-Stuart
Lebda-Ericsson

Obviously, those are dependent on Filppula’s status. Should he be unable to go, expect something similar to Tuesday’s units.

… Chris Osgood will start his fourth straight. It looks like Ty Conklin will only get in for back-to-backs or if Osgood stumbles.

… This is a big game for the Wings’ focus. The Thrashers aren’t fighting for a playoff spot, so the tendency may be to not take them as seriously. That’d be a definite mistake if Ilya Kovalchuk really is returning to the lineup tonight. Even if he doesn’t, however, the Thrashers have the ability to surprise a complacent Red Wing team. Detroit needs to take this one seriously, and play like they have in the last three.