Last night the Atlanta Thrashers bodies traveled to Long Island New York, but they left their competitive spirit back in Georgia. It was a pathetic effort in which they were repeated beaten to loose pucks and simply did not put forth the effort level required to win a NHL hockey game. This stinker of a road game comes on top of a recent home stand in which they showed the same problem in nearly every first period.
Now I understand that losing superstar and Captain Ilya Kovalchuk hurts the team's offensive production--but the problem hasn't been a lack of offensive. The problem is a lack of compete, a lack of intensity and a lack of determination. The Thrashers players need to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they really want the playoffs or not. Because if they don't dig deeper and work hard they're going to fall out of contention while Kovalchuk is healing.
When Kovalchuk went down my expectations were modest--if the team could just play close to .500 hockey they could tread water until their star player returned to the roster. Right now the Thrashers are not treading water they are slipping under. If they don't kick harder, the opportunity for post-season play be to far away when Ilya comes back.
The lack of leadership shown by assistant captain Vyacheslav Kozlov is a big problem. Zach Bogosian has really stepped up his offensive contributions with Kovalchuk out of the lineup. But Kozlov has been Missing In Action night after night. He needs to lower that shoulder and drive to the net more. He needs stop passing up shot opportunities and that puck. I've seen Kozlov do these things in the past, either Father Time has finally caught up to Kozlov or he just isn't working hard enough.