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A Festivus of Turnovers

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Last night at Philips Arena a young hockey team with a new head coach came and played with great determination. With young guys playing key positions and getting ice time in crucial situations, the young team played excellent defensive hockey and ran away with the game that should have been closer on paper. Unfortunately that team was the Toronto Maple Leafs, not the Atlanta Thrashers.

The Thrashers gifted the Toronto Maple Leafs numerous extra possessions with turnover after turnover. Not a single Thrasher defensemen had an acceptable game. Time after time the Thrashers made elementary mental errors such as passing the puck behind a man, passing too far in front of a man, passing the puck to the other team or passing the puck to one in particular (while on an odd man rush).

Do any of these players feel guilty for taking the organizations money after an effort like that? They ought to be donating the pay check for this game to charity because they certainly didn't earn it. They should thank their lucky stars that they don't play in Detroit, Toronto or Montreal because they would be getting ripped apart by the local media and fans on sports radio stations. Here they can tip-toe out of the locker room and finish up their Christmas shopping without worrying any embarrassing comments from fans at the mall.

Does anyone on this team ever hold his fellow teammates accountable? Because this was the sort of game that should have resulted in either a broken TV in the locker room, water bottles being throw across the room or somebody shouting in some one's face after the game. I can guarantee you that Mark Messier wouldn't just dress quietly and slip out the door after watching his team mail it in like that. If someone wants the "C" on their chest tonight was an opportunity to show that you deserved to be called a leader. In my book only Armstrong and the 4th line were the only Thrashers who looked like they came to play.

Kovalchuk has gone back to over-passing again. I ripped into him several weeks ago because he seemed to forget that he has perhaps the most dangerous shots in the NHL. Here is a man on the verge of his 500th point who has a shot that ranks up there with guys like Brett Hull and he keeps passing it off or waiting until after the defenseman closes off the shooting lane. Memo to Kovalchuk: you shoot when the lane is there, not when you "feel" like it. You can score from just inside the blueline--you don't need to skate into the top of the circle and let the defenseman block your shot or take away the lane--rip it higher in the zone!

The Little White Russian line was far too "euro" last night, they were content with making short passes on the periphery and passed up several chances to put the puck on net. They finally did manage to score a goal but the game was out of hand at that point.

The entire defense corps ought to be ashamed of themselves. In baseball they have a term "defensive indifference" which means that a runner advanced with no attempt by the defense to stop him. Well the official scorer for the Thrashers-Leafs game could have used that phrase on the first three Leafs goals. Go and watch the replay and you'll see one wide open Leaf goal scorer standing unmarked and unmolested time after time. Even the "crease clear" Valabik fails to mark a Toronto player who gets an easy tap in goal. Lehtonen had no protection what so ever.

Defensive Indifference? Who was on the ice when the Leafs Scored
Goal 1 Oystrick-Schnedier Kovalchuk-Reasoner-Thorburn
Goal 2 Enstrom Havelid Little-White-Kozlov
Goal 3 Hainsey Valabik Kovalchuk-Reasoner-Thorburn
Goal 4 Enstrom Havelid Perrin Reasoner (PPGA)
Goal 5 Oystrick Schnedier Kovalchuk-Reasoner-Thorburn
Goal 6 Oystrick SchnedierLittle-White-Kozlov Kovalchuk (ENGA)

Cumulative Damage: Players on the ice for
4 Against: Kovalchuk, Reasoner
3 Against: Oystrick, Schneider Thorburn
2 Against: Enstrom Havelid Little White Kozlov
1 Against: Hainsey Valabik Perrin
0 Against: Slater-Crabb-Boulton Williams Armstrong