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They Did It

The Thrashers pulled it out in OT on Monday and they have climbed from the NHL basement back up to the middle of the pack in just 14 games since the coaching change. Frankly I'm shocked that they accomplished this so quickly. I was hoping to see them hit .500 by around Christmas/New Years.

Can the team keep this up? Well probably not. Let's face it they are one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now and it is unlikely they will play this way all year. They underachieved when they started 0-6 and they probably have overachieved going 10-4.

It is also human nature to relax a bit after accomplishing a goal. This team worked very hard to get back to even and they might relax subconsciously. There is a fine line between winning and losing in this new NHL and if they relax they will slump. Also keep in mind that we have also been playing some struggling teams like Florida and Washington. The schedule was very tough in October and significantly easier in November. They will face tough teams and hot teams at some point.

I have to say that Monday's game was probably the most entertaining contest of the whole year. There really is nothing sweeter than a come-from-behind win. When you're trailing 3-1 late in the 3rd period it feels like a surprise gift if you get two points. To be honest the Thrashers played a terrific first period and then ran into trouble due to Tampa's strict neutral zone trap and breakdowns in defensive coverage (Holik, I'm thinking of you). Kovalchuk had some good looks at the net early but shot wide a couple of times.

Perhaps the turning point on Monday was the dive call against Hossa. I can't remember a home crowd being more angry about a call. Fans booed throughout the penalty kill and even after. Once they got vocal the angry noise quickly transitioned into a positive "Let's Go Thrashers" and the home team played with more energy.

It was one of the most poorly officiated games on the year. Both teams got the shaft. Kozlov took an uncalled high stick and I witnessed interference being committed by both clubs. Tampa got some weak calls against them late but they also got the benefit of the diving penalty to Hossa which was marginal.

One key play that might be overlooked took place during the OT power play. Tampa had the puck and was skating around with it just killing time. Who stepped up? Little Tobias Enstrom skated up and checked a much larger Tampa player and dislodged the puck--down the ice they go and White scores the game winner with $14 million dollars in decoys crashing the net with him. I was glad to hear that Enstrom was awarded an assist for his part of the play.