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28 Seconds Later

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They say that you only need to watch the fourth quarter of a NBA game because that is when most games are decided. Down at Philips Arena, you really only needed to see the final 28 seconds to see tonight's contest swing from a likely 2-1 loss to a 3-2 OT win. It was the sort of night that gives coaches heartburn and ruins their tailored suits.

I'm still sick (too hoarse to change "Hossa, Hossa" or "Kovy, Kovy" unfortunately) and I didn't take super detailed notes, but here are my observations.
  • The Thrashers were all over the Panthers in the first period out shooting them by a wide margin and piling up some nice scoring chances. In the first 10 minutes the Thrashers seemed to gain the Florida zone at will. After that the Panthers went into full trap mode which slowed down the Thrashers attack.
  • The Thrashers 4th line of Slater, Thorburn and Boulton had their best game of the season. They had a couple of shifts where they really bottled up the Panthers in their own end and Thorburn nearly scored his 2nd goal of the year.
  • Zhitnik's struggles continued as his man scored to give Florida a 1-0 when the Thrashers were completely outplaying the opposition. They only showed one replay at the arena but once again Zhitnik looked more like a tourist than a defenseman. McCarthy also made some poor plays in his own end. Exelby cannot return soon enough.
  • On the other hand Enstrom had another quality contest playing almost 27 minutes, making great passes and playing good defense. He had a point and finished +2. I shudder to think where the Thrashers would be without him. I thought Popovic played a solid game and I'd like to see him get more minutes.
  • Kovalchuk had three decent scoring chances in the game and was unable to cash any of them in. But he did finally connect in the OT to get the 2nd standings point. Another game in which Ilya played like a champion.
  • The Thrashers had the better chances in the game, but Anderson was very strong in net for Florida. Perhaps even more frustrating was seeing the power fall back in the bad habit where only Kovalchuk shoots the puck. The power play was ineffective until the very end when the team was desperate and they started throwing pucks at the net. This team MUST learn to do that more often. There are no style points in hockey--an ugly goal counts as much as a pretty one. The Thrashers absolutely need to pass to the man in the slot--even if it doesn't result in a goal it will cause defenders to collapse down low.
  • Another home game and another problem with the stanchions that hold up the glass. It seems to me that this has happed at roughly 1/2 the home games since the the new boards and glass were installed.
  • After the 0-6 start, the team has gone 8-4 and is just two points away from the final playoff slot in the standing. They have nearly dug themselves out of that hole but must continue to play good hockey. This club cannot afford to relax and fall into a losing streak with all of these divisional games this month.
  • One very encouraging trend is that the team has allowed fewer goals lately. They gave up 5 to Carolina but just 2 to Florida and just one to Washington and Florida on the road. In an earlier post I commented that the team must improve their defensive play to have any shot at making the playoffs and they have cut back on the number of games where they allow 4 or 5 or 6 goals against.
The team has just one game in their next 5 days so that gives them a bit of break. Hopefully they can keep up this momentum.