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Thrashers Watch Bruins Skate to Victory in Atlanta

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The Atlanta Thrashers started off the 2007-08 with several anemic efforts and put themselves into a giant 0-6 hole. They recovered from that poor start with a string of solid efforts and climbed back up to the .500 mark. Lately the bad Thrashers have re-appeared at Philips Arena. A week ago the team beat the Islanders despite being outplayed. They played better the next game beating the Rangers 4-2 but turned in a terrible effort in Washington.

Last night the Thrashers lost a game that the Boston Bruins tried to give away in the 2nd period with a series of dumb penalties. In case you missed the game here's a short summary.
  • The Thrashers didn't skate.
  • The Thrashers didn't hit.
  • The Thrashers didn't play with any sort of intensity (with a few exceptions).
  • The Thrashers scored some power play goals to make the score look close.
The checking lines which had turned in some great performance in recent weeks barely broke a sweat. A friend I talked to at the game asked if the checking line had broken a sweat during the 1st period. The Thrashers are not a physical bruising type of team but last night Bruins forwards could skate with no fear of getting hit.

Holik in particular had a brutal -4 performance. Not exactly what you expect out of your highly compensated defensive captain. It was Holik's man that scored in the slot for the first goal. Coming into the goal Nokelainen had just one marker all season. If Holik who was called for a late penalty which helped Boston score the game winner.

Another veteran with a game to forget was Zhitnik who was -2 in less than 8 minutes of ice time. He was all but benched in the 3rd as he and McCarthy played just one shift in the final period. Tough to win when you only have 4 defensemen you can trust to put out there in a close game.

Hossa had a few good moments but at other times he just gave the puck. His power forward moves have been missing-in-action most of the season. I was willing to cut him slack early because of the groin injury but that was two months ago. Unless I hear otherwise I have assume that he is healthy. We never see him walk out of the corner and roof the puck anymore. What happened to that Hossa who was impossible to control along the boards? Now he just seems content to try these shifty moves that rarely work out. The speed is still there and the passing is still there but the low boards dominance is not.

The Recchi-Perrin-Kozlov line showed some real flashes at times. It is just one game but it certainly looks like Mark Recchi can still make a great pass and he can still shoot. That re-direction goal was a thing of beauty. Kozlov seemed revived a bit by playing with the NHL veteran and Perrin's body language indicated he was excited about skating with those two guys.

Kovalchuk played hard but Boston had scouted him well and always had a man there to pressure him high in the zone which prevented him from driving the slot or getting his shot away cleanly. I also loved that Ilya was willing to drop the gloves after former Thrashers Mark Savard cross-checked him in the neck. I would have paid extra to see those two go a round or two.

I'll give the Bruins some credit because they had their trap going full tilt cramming all five Boston players into the small amount of ice between the center ice red line and one of the blue lines. But the Thrashers played right into their hands by either not dumping it in, or failing to forecheck aggressively when they did dump it in.

But you could tell who was going to win this game by looking at just one thing--the skates. The Bruins had their feet moving and they were the aggressors they were creating mismatches. The Thrashers skates were not moving as quickly, they were standing around and reacting. If the Thrashers want to get back to winning and get back into the playoffs they have to want to win and they have to get their feet going.