After two subpar games against Boston and Toronto that netted the team a solitary point in the standings the Atlanta Thrashers held a closed door meeting to address their inconsistency and focus. The immediate results were dramatic as the the team came out firing 18 shots in the 1st period alone in Raleigh yesterday. Some strong goaltending by Manny Legace kept the game tied 0-0 after one, but the Thrashers broke through with a 3 goal third and seized control of the match.
Some key moments:
- Marty Reasoner was simply amazing killing off penalties when the game was still close.
- After getting the 1-0 lead the Thrashers didn't relax but kept driving to the net. Artyukhin scored a very pretty goal driving the outside lane.
- Bergfors also had a pretty goal where he stick handled towards the net and when the defenseman protected the passing lane, he slipped in a backhand roof shot.
- Hard working Jimmy Slater was rewarded with some late game PP ice time and cashed in a season high 11th goal off a cycle with Colby Armstrong.
- The Thrashers had two poor shifts in the 3rd period where they were scrambling in their own zone. Johan Hedberg was equal to the task and kept the Hurricanes off the scoreboard.
- Late in the game Clarke MacArthur was hauled down by a Carolina player who got his stick blade right around #41's neck. It was a very dangerous play that deserved a stiffer penalty in my opinion.
- With all four lines competing hard, the coaching staff was able to spread out the ice time. No defenseman broke 22 minutes--which is a bit unusual.
- Our friends over at Canes Country pointed to Atlanta's strong day in the faceoff circle as a strong element for the Thrashers.
Unlike the Boston game the Thrashers had a lot of room to skate and pass. In the Toronto OTL, they failed to execute on their passing opportunities, but Saturday was a major improvement. They were crisp with their puck movement and much more aggressive on jumping into to 50-50 puck battles.
Scoreboard Watching: Boston won 5-0 and has a game in hand which pushes them out of range baring a major collapse. However, the Flyers do appear to be in the midst of a collapse with yet more goalie problems as Backlund pulls his groin and Brian Boucher is forced to come into the game. Presumably Boucher is going to have to play tomorrow against the Devils. A Devils win over the Flyers on Sunday and Thrashers win over the Hurricanes on Monday puts Atlanta in a tie for the last playoff berth. Note: I believe there is no local TV for the Monday game, so head down to Philips Arena if you want to see the action.