What a game in Buffalo. Max Afinogenov gets his revenge, Johan Hedberg proves moose are way better than bison, and Todd White, CPA joins the tally sheet. Here's a breakdown of what I saw as good and bad about tonight's game, conveniently divided into sections marked "Good" and "Bad." Clever, no? Fortunately, way more good than bad on this particular night.
Ilya Kovalchuk. He's Yer Huckleberry. Two goals in about three minutes. Seven goals in five games. He's on a mission folks, and will not be denied.
Mad Max Beyond HSBC Arena. So many things right with this goal:
First, it was gorgeous. Second, it came right on the heels of Drew Stafford bringing the Sabres within one. Third, it was the backstory that killed the Sabres' spirit just as much as it was the actual goal. And hearing boos in a road barn is always nice.
That Magical PK. Three for four to bring us to 85% on the year.
Rich Peverley Continues to Shock & Amaze. His faceoff percentage tonight? 87% That's all. Just 13 of 15 draws won. And an assist, just because he could. He's still dispensing, just from the faceoff circle.
Legs Were Moving. There's been hustle in back to back games!
Franchise Record. 4-1-0 is the Thrashers' best start ever.
Moose. He was on this evening.
Dumb Penalties Late in the Game. Zach Bogosian & Christoph Schubert both took some pretty undisciplined minors late in the game to jeopardize the lead, not to menion Bogo's earlier hooking calls.
Shot Ratio Continues to Defy All Logic. Seriously. Fourty-two shots against? Twenty in the third period alone? Wow. Just.... wow.
Stepping Off the Gas. The momentum noticeably shifted in the third, as indicated by my previous point. I understand not wanting to take risks and control the clock, but Kovalchuk's drifting in his own zone on Atlanta's final power play was a little dangerous. If we could just find a balance....
I have to agree with Aaron’s dumb penalties comment. The PK did a decent job tonight, but those late dumb penalties (especially in the offensive zone!) just can’t happen. Granted, at the time they were up by 2 goals, but that cannot be a regular occurrence.
Shots on goal must come down. It’s one thing to be outshot 24-32 and come away with the win, but 42 SOG? No. It’s nice, the shooting areas the defense is giving away are from bad angles oftentimes, but allowing the other team to handle the puck that much in their zone can cost them.
Players that stood out:
Ilya Kovalchuk - This guy wanted to make up for not getting any SOG last night and hurting his chances with Ovechkin for most goals. He was so patient with his first shot, making sure his obstacles were in place before he threw the puck at the net so fast the goaltender only saw tracers.
Nik Antropov - Overall a solid game until the offensive zone penalty he took in the 3rd with less than 5 minutes to play. His pass to Kovalchuk on the opening penalty makes up for it though.
Max Afinogenov - He was playing his former team, and competing with a purpose. It was great to see the huge smile on his face, and one that was shared with his new teammates. He may not be welcome in Buffalo anymore, but his new team sure shows they appreciate his efforts.
Zach Bogosian - Back-to-back games of bad penalties, bad passes that became giveaways. He seemed to be off his game the past two nights. Let’s hope it does not continue.
Marty Reasoner - Hustle the entire night. After the great game he had last night, he seemed to continue right where he left off--showing no signs of playing tough minutes last night on the PK. Him and Chris Thorburn seem to be a good forward PK pairing.
I only saw the last half of the game, but wow. It's great to see the Thrashers continue to rack up the wins, but color me concerned: the shot differential hasn't hurt us yet, but how long can that continue? Is there another team in the NHL that has such a good shooting % for vs shooting % against? (The Thrashers are perhaps the polar opposite of the Nashville Predators, a team I saw get absolutely destroyed by the Edmonton Oilers despite outshooting them significantly. I had good seats, too! Got some on-the-glass-behind-the-penalty-boxes seats for $40. Crazy.)
Now that we've had 5 games, there's getting to be enough data to start analyzing some statistics. Look for some of that over the next few days. I'll see if I can quantize my concerns.
The good news: our second line finally got on the board. A goal for White and another for Afinogenov makes this Thrashers blogger a happy camper.