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Mistakes Costly in Boston

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Last night's contest up in Boston may have been the most entertaining Thrasher game so far this year. There were many warning signs heading into this game: playing on back to back nights, a rusty goalie, the potential for an emotional let down after facing Hossa and the Cup Champs.

Yet the team came out and played with great energy. The 4th line was getting regular ice time. The team finally broke through on the power play. After a lot of tough luck on the PP the puck comes right Ilya Kovalchuk who makes an amazing play by knocking the puck out of the air and into the back of the net. Hedberg made a couple of key saves early and the energy level and commitment from the players looked like it would carry them to victory over the Bruins.

But two things did in the Thrashers this night: officiating and youth. Regular readers know I don't spend a lot of time obsessing about bad calls. Officials make mistakes calling the world's fastest game and players simply to find a way to win within that context. Last night the NHL had all 30 teams playing and therefore used 15 different sets of linesmen and referees. I don't know if that had a direct effect on the Atlanta-Boston game, but there were some strange calls. Numerous players were whistled from some very marginal things and yet I saw two different hits from behind that were non-calls. Enstrom's penalty in particular was just a brutal call in my opinion.

The non-call on Chara's hit from behind on Armstrong was incredible. Chara hit Armstrong right in the middle of Coby's back. In youth hockey they have the kids wear little STOP signs on their back when they are learning how to check--if there had been a STOP sign on the back of Armstrong's back that's precisely where Chara made contact with him. Coby made an incredible play right after that to deflect the puck to Kozlov who released a laser quick shot to tie the game 4-4 at that point.

The Thrashers have shown terrific improvement in their defensive coverage. In years past it was not unusual to see someone wide open adjacent to the net. We hadn't seen that this season until last night. There was a play were Bogosian, Perrin and Slater simply didn't read the play the same way and a wide open man scored an easy goal. On the TV broadcast Darren Eliot seemed to think it was Bogosian who erred, I lean towards putting the blame on Perrin who he appeared to be coming back to take that man in the slot and then curled away to the side boards, Slater comes into the picture very late as the Boston player scores--I'm not sure where he was due to the camera angle.

On the game winning goal it was a simple mistake by Little that led to the Boston victory. With less than 2 minutes in the game the puck comes to Little on the side boards--he had time and space to chip it out of the defensive zone, but sees a hit coming and decides to keep the puck and curl back into his own end. The puck is jarred loose and Enstrom is suddenly faced with a two on one. Enstrom goes down to block the passing lane and the man with the puck roofs it over Hedberg. An ugly finish to an otherwise good game. In this game at least the Thrashers youth probably cost them a point. I'm glad to the young guys get their chance but there are going to be nights where this happens.

Corsi Box Score (ES Thrashers Shots minus Opposition Shots Attempted)

Team
-4

Defense
The defense pairings all received ice time against Detroit's Zetterberg and Datsyuk lines. 20:41 Schneider +1
16:41 Bogosian +2

19:38 Havelid -3
21:56 Enstrom -2

23:08 Hainsey -3
17:13 Exelby -3

Forwards
The 2nd line really won their ES battle and the 3rd line really lost out.
20:35 Kovalchuk -1
19:30 White -3
16:28 Little -4

12:36 Kozlov +8
11:35 Christensen +8
16:15 Armstrong +6

15:10 Perrin -10
15:25 Reasoner -8
14:00 Williams -9

08:26 Thorburn +1
12:35: Slater -1
07:28 Sterling +0

Real Eastern Standings (Points - Games Played)

This controls for differences in games played by teams
+6 BUF
+6 NYR
+4 MON
+3 NJD
+3 PIT
+2 CAR
+1 WAS
+1 BOS
---------- Playoffs
+1 TOR
+0 FLA
-1 PHI
-2 ATL
-2 TBL
-3 OTT
-3 NYI

Real Western Standings (Points - Games Played)
+5 SJS
+5 DET
+5 MIN
+2 STL
+2 COL
+1 EDM
+1 CHI
+1 CGY
--------------Playoffs
-0 VAN
-0 NAS
-1 PHX
-1 LAK
-1 DAL
-1 ANA
-2 CBJ