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Steve McCarthy Gets a Plus

Steve McCarthy was selected as the number one star in the Thrashers victory over the Lightning. He had 2 Assists, he was +3 and he played 19 minutes (which I assume was a season high). It has been a pretty rough year for the Thrashers blueliner as he was last in the NHL in terms of the plus/minus statistic.

In case you're not familiar with how plus/minus works a player gets a plus each time he is on the ice for an Even Strength (ES) or Short Handed (SH) team goal and a minus when he is on the ice and his team allows a ES or SH goal.

With his +3 performance last night McCarthy improved from -19 to -16 which puts him in a tie for dead last in the NHL with Brad Richards (who was -3 last night thanks in part to McCarthy). Here is the really amazing thing. The Thrashers are now 30+ games into their season and prior to last night McCarthy had been on the ice for 19 ES or SH goals against and 0 ES or SH goals for.

Think about that last statement for a second. There was a guy on the Thrashers who played 255 minutes of ES and SH ice time and was not on the ice one time when the Thrashers scored. 255 Minutes!--that is the equivalent of a team being shut out for 4.25 GAMES! So McCarthy broke his season long ES+SH shutout streak last night by being on the ice for 3 Thrasher goals.

Now you look at McCarthy's shut out streak two ways. You could say he was just incredibly unlucky--the Thrashers are a decent offensive team and he just happened to be off the ice each time they put one into the net. On the other hand you could say that McCarthy's incredible shutout streak demonstrates that he simply lacks the offensive skill needed to make things happen in the NHL. After all how could play the essentially 4 entire NHL games and not help produce a goal if you have any offensive upside? I'll let you decide if it was a matter of luck or a product of skill.

Tampa Game Comments:
  • Hossa had more jump than I've seen in a while. The Kozlov-Perrin-Hossa line looked great.
  • Tampa did not trap and the Thrashers gained the offensive zone with ease. The real test for these new offensive lines will come when they get matched up against a hard trap.
  • The checking lines were going good again and I was very pleased to see Thorburn and Dupuis rewarded for their hard work last night.
  • Perrin added yet another SH Assist last night when he dished over to a wide open Dupuis for a tap in goal. Eric Perrin moved into 2nd place in the SH scoring race last night.
  • Zhitnik was a turnover machine yet again last night. He either made a direct turnover of just dumped it to a dead spot on the ice where Tampa picked it up. Has he lost the ability to see things out on the ice? His passes are just brutal. I'm afraid Ken Klee has his work cut out for him on that D pairing.
  • Exebly and McCarthy played together and the numbers say they had a great game. I'm going to take a wait and see with these two. I did hear Exelby say on the post game show that they are good friends off the ice and that aids their on-ice communication.
  • Lehtenon was moving very well last night and his body position looked sharp to me. We need him to play like that all the time.
  • Personally I think Tampa just mailed it in after the 1st period. The Lighting had some good puck possession in the Thrashers end during the first but Lehtonen kept them from scoring and after their net minder was pulled they seemed to just turn out the lights.

A needed win but the opposition only put a fight for about 20 minutes. Ottawa will be a much sterner test on Thursday.