Greeting readers. I'm high up above the ice, one hour to the start of the game. I'm probably not going to do a key play blog link I have for some past games. Tonight I'm going to take advantage of the high location to track pass completions and turnovers--hopefully it produces something interesting.
The PR staff provides pre-game stats packages and media notes. Just flipping through, three things jumped out at me:
- Just one win against the Sharks in Thrashers history. All time record 1-8-2 with the one win coming in 2002.
- Another surprising stat is that it has been nearly one year (12/26/08) since the Thrashers had a home hat trick.
- Even more startling--the last shoot out win was back in 2006 against the NYR.
Notes from the Morning Skate:
- Salmela in, and Popovic sits. No changes to foward lines as Slater sits again.
- Morning skate consists of players sort of having fun working with the puck, and playing contests with each other. Then Coach Anderson comes out and runs a few quick drills. After that the players leave the ice on their own accord.
- The defensemen took one end of the ice and practiced slap shots with Antropov standing at the net working on tips and re-directions. He was the only forward assigned this role.
- At Center Ice the centers practiced faceoffs versus each other with Coach Cunneyworth.
- At the other end of the ice, pairs of wingers practiced going behind the net and making a centering pass out to their fellow winger. Later wing pairs practiced making cross-crease passes with Coach Weekes playing the role of a passive defenseman.
- Dany Heatley came out to the bench briefly. Fellow former-Ottawa Senator Christoph Schubert came over to talk to him. The head coach of the Sharks also watched for a few minutes.
- Evander Kane was one of the last to leave the ice as were the two presumed scratches Popovic and Slater.
- Towards the end, Coach Anderson and Chris Thorburn were battling each other for possession of the puck in the Center Ice circle--Coach Anderson still has some hands on him.
Hanging out behind the scenes I chatted with Darren Eliot about Ondrej Pavelec's development as a goalie. Eliot thinks that adding a bit more structure to his game will be crucial for Pavelec to have sustained success as a starter in the NHL. He added that Pavelec has a good foundation to build on.
It is always a pleasure to speak with radio play-by-play announcer Dan Kamal. He always has some good observations and he wears his love of hockey on his sleeve.
One thing about attending a game as press is the level of professionalism you see behind the scenes. As a fan you go to a game expecting some thrills and chills. NHL hockey provides an emotional release and some entertainment. But for the people behind the scenes it is their job. They're interested in the team's success of course, but they have to remain focused on playing their role and making sure everything unfolds as it should.
I've been in the bowels of several NHL arenas now--and they all look identical. Miles of grey concrete corridors, electrical cables, boxes, Zambonis and not enough signage. You can get lost rather easily. I remember years ago reading about a NHL coach that got locked in a room in the basement of an arena--I can believe it. Who knows what is hidden down here--Damian Rhodes groin muscle?
I'll be interested to see how the Thrashers start off against the Sharks. Last season it seemed like every Western Conference team was faster for the first 10 minutes until the Thrashers adjusted to the Western speed/style of hockey. With this being the 2nd game on the home stand, hopefully the team can get off to a quicker start than on Thursday.
I'm tracking passes and turnover. So far what really sticks out is that Enstrom and Bogosian pass D to D much more than the other pairings. Enstrom has 2 turnovers tonight thus far.
Don Waddell was great and answered a number of interesting questions. But got message from doctors that Ilya Kovalchuk will not return to the game after taking a shot to the body. Apparently he came back to the bench.
Don Waddell: Peverley mid-season deal was unusal, doesn't anticipate same for Armstrong. Kovalchuk is an exception of course, will talk to him any time.
Don Waddell: Atlanta talked to Chicago Wolves before Chelios was signed. Key D prospects Kulda and Postma will dress and get their ice time.
2nd Intermission we talked to Dan Kamal. I asked him which opposition jerseys hardest to read as broadcaster. He said Rangers blue jersey--letters are trimmed in red which makes for poor contrast. Also mentioned that he dislikes the font that makes the number "1" look like a "7" (I'm thinking Predators are one of those).