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Game 21 and 22: Seeing Stars and Rouge, Blanc and Bleu

Today is a bit of catch-up post.

The Stars game began as I expected the Thrashers were simply not playing at the same level as the Stars in the 1st period and they fell behind 3-1. Hartley pulled Lehtonen and Kari could have played better (on one of the goals he pulls off his post allowing the goal to go in). I watched the three Dallas goals in super slow motion and Coburn was clearly to blame on two of them. In one he had good body position on Barnaby and even had his stick close to Barnaby's stick but he simply failed to execute a good stick check allowing the redirect goal right in front of Lehtonen. On the third goal Coburn ran right into Lehtonen and fell on his leg preventing Kari from moving across the crease to prevent the wrap around goal.

The team briefly rallied to make it interesting in the third. But this game demonstrates my biggest complaint against the Thrashers--you can't spot playoff caliber teams a big lead and expect to be able to come back and win on a regular basis. This squad simply has to figure out a way to answer the bell at the beginning of the 1st period.

Stefan had three points and finished a +4 for the game. He came out and skated when he was selected as one of the three Stars. I heard some people remark "good for him" but I wanted to ask them "why do you say that?" If Stefan had every played like that on a consistent basis in Atlanta he never would have been traded. Dallas has him playing on the third line with noted goal scorer Matthew Barnaby and he manages to get three points in under 15 minutes of ice time.

My other big complaint about the Thrashsers in the Dallas game was the incredible number of aimless dump passes into the neutral zone. I realize that there are many times during a game that a team will trade possession of the puck in order to put down the ice. However, the Thrashers were not even getting the puck deep into the Dallas end, they were simply making dumps to the neutral zone which Dallas players turned into quick counter attacks.

I have to say that Bobby Holik has been rather invisble lately. He is getting paid top 6 money and right now the team is clearly not getting a good return on that investment. On the other hand Mellanby continues to shock and amaze me by making smart plays like the one that led to the first Thrasher goal. He made a nice pass to Kovalchuk and then drove to the net. The fact that Mellanby was at the net forced the Dallas defensemen to stay there which left the slot wide open for Rucchin to score the goal.

The miserable drive home was made even more miserable by the completely inane remarks made by the Mark Stulberger on the post-game show. He must have mentioned three different times in the span of about 8 minutes how Kamal and Odgers had plane problems last trip. How many times do we need to hear about that? Then he went on to rip Lehtonen talking about giving up 3 goals on few shots. I began to wonder if he had even watched the game and was simply using the boxscore as he source for comments.

I have fewer complaints about the Montreal game. The team played better from top to bottom and Coburn made fewer mistakes so hopefully he was just nervous in the 1st versus Dallas. It is always entertaining to watch the game on RDS and we had someone who could provide us with translations every now and again. Michigan lost and the Thrashers did the same, but at least they made a match out of it.

I'm out in Denver for the holiday and so I will be down at the Pepsi Center tonight watching the COL v ANA game instead of ATL v WAS. I will probably take in a Denver University game this weekend as well. Before I left town I went back through my recorded games and updated my penalties drawn data which I will post this weekend.