It's always hard to lose two leads and then the game in a shootout. For some reason, though, this month that seems about right. The Thrashers are 3-3-3 this month, getting nine out of a possible eighteen points. They've been fortunate that the Carolina Hurricanes haven't been able to close the gap to 8th place, but their focus needs to be moving up in the standings, not keeping the status quo. A few quick observations from tonight's game:
- Nik Antropov seemed absolutely spry compared to how he has been at some points this season. His hip injury has been bothering him, and his point totals and plus minus show that pretty well, but you couldn't tell that tonight.
- Tobias Enstrom has the ability to carry this team on his very short shoulders. His confidence is up this year; some say that's from playing with Dustin Byfuglien, and that's probably true. He's muscling Buff out of the way in Norris contention, or at the very least should be. It's nice to see that confidence leading to more shots on goal by him.
- Speaking of Byfuglien, this period must be one of those cons that Blackhawks fans talked discuss when talking about the pros and cons of Byfuglien. Buff hasn't had a point since January 2nd. He doesn't necessarily seem disinterested, but he's been having problems keeping the puck in at the blueline and has been getting outworked at times in his own zone. That being said, he had some absolute bombs fired at the net tonight, and it's a shame one didn't go in. If Enstrom can carry the team in terms of production, though, Byfuglien is the team's divining rod. If he can find a way to score, the team wins. If he's on the fritz, they're not going to find a point in the desert.
- Killing off the five-on-three was absolutely huge and gave the Thrashers a big spark. It's a shame that they weren't able to capitalize on it. The team had problems maintaining momentum and crispness of play tonight, and at some points looked sluggish.
- Bryan Little is a beast on face-offs, and that's swell. He was 10-for-14 tonight, going four for five in the defensive zone. Rich Peverley also looked better tonight than he has in the defensive zone, going five for six. Offensively, though, two for six isn't that hot.
- Offensive zone face-offs in general might be a decent sized part of this team's recent struggles. Tonight the Thrashers were eight for eighteen. Thursday they were eleven for nineteen in the offensive zone. Peverley was five for eleven.
- Finally, Ondrej Pavelec has looked very good the past few games, and it better carry over to tomorrow afternoon. He's got a 4.72 GAA on nights where he's played back to back, and a .825 SV%. Most of that is due, though, to the 6-1 loss last Saturday to the Stars.