A couple of blogs ago I made a comment about how the Thrashers have the opportunity to make great theatre on the home stretch of the regular season. Well, look what’s happening. In the post trade-deadline, post-Kovalchuk portion of this season, the Thrashers have gone on a 4-1-2 streak, then a 0-5-1 streak, and now a 3-0-0 streak. That’s a 7-6-3 record overall since the deadline. Where does that leave the team? One point behind the Boston Bruins for the 8th and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
Last night’s 5-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers may have been the Thrashers most complete performance of the year. In fact, I’ll venture to say it was the first game Coach Anderson’s team had ever played a full 60 minute effort in a game of significant value. They played solid defensively, matched Philadelphia’s toughness (something I was heavily concerned about prior to the game) and capitalized on Philly’s goaltending woes.
I know I usually mention Nik Antropov in just about every one of my blogs, but how could I not? Antropov is the ‘de facto’ Captain of the Thrashers right now. He’s the guy producing. He’s the guy leading by example. It was especially nice to see him put Scottie Hartnell in a very firm headlock after a scrum in front of Atlanta goaltender Johan Hedberg. Oh, and did I mentioned he collected another two-point night? Antropov assisted on Niclas Bergfors’ opening tally and then buried one of his own, which would stand as the game-winner. He now has 22 goals and 41 assists for 63 points, which makes this a career year for Big Nik.
The Thrashers will play the Flyers again tonight in Philadelphia. Atlanta will not have as easy a time as they did last night. Going into Philadelphia’s arena and playing in front of a fired up city that demands nothing but excellence from the home team…you can bet the Thrashers will have to buckle up.
A win tonight, couple with a Boston loss, would vault the Thrashers into the playoff picture. Alas, any way you slice it, the Thrashers matchup against the Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden on Tuesday night is, as Doc Emerick might say, “large.”
Speaking of the playoffs…I was recently asked if I would even want the Thrashers to make the 8th seed only to lose (and possibly get swept) by the Washington Capitals. I’m fully aware of the Thrashers slim-to-none chances of making out of any first round matchup. But seriously folks, simply getting the Thrashers name back into the playoff picture is a victory for this franchise given how things have gone over the past three years. This is a team that’s lost superstars and lost fans, and desperately needs SOMETHING to sell. Even if it’s a sweep and the Thrashers remain without a playoff victory in its entire history, I would still consider it a very positive event for this franchise. Any fan would.
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Written by Kevin Thurston