Good Morning, Good Morning
Here's your game preview for tonight's Thrashers/Blues contest. Being that the Thrashers are playing the Blues (see what I did there?), I thought it fitting to drop a music-themed preview on you. Pay attention for song titles from & references to such classic bands as Queen, Love & Rockets, and Def Leppard!
Look, I've had about an entire week to think about this game. It's like turning a word over and over in your head until it makes no sense. Like road.
Try it: RO - aaaaad.
For Thrashers fans, last year's tilt was memorable only for Keith Tkachuk's 1,000 career point. Other than that, it was a scintillating battle between two sub-sub-par hockey clubs searching for a reason to get out of bed. Colby Armstrong & the departed Nic Havelid scored Atlanta's 2 goals, and the Blues posted 47 shots to Atlanta's 28. Ah, how I miss the 2008-2009 Thrashers.
Wait, no I don't.
The Happy Song (Dum Dum)
Good News for Thrashers Fans
Sweet Euro Hangover - Since the NHL began its' European Premier games in 2007, the participating teams have a combined record of 1-2-3 for their initial games back. That airline food must be the problem. The Thrashers could use this to their advantage, as long as they don't take a period off. Being that this is the "Good News" section, we'll address that later.
Pour Some Sugar On Me - The Thrashers can score, and people know it. Kevin Allen thinks Atlanta's good for 260+ goals this season. If the Thrashers can backcheck well and cut down on shots against, we may have another high scoring victory to party like rockstars about.
One Man Army - Colby Armstrong makes his return to the lineup, and none too soon. Atlanta can ill-afford to be without their highest-impact player. Not to mention the mouth that won't quit.
Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
Bad News for Thrashers Fans
Paul Is Not Dead - Paul Kariya picked up four points (2G, 2A, both goals in the season opener) in Stockholm, and he did it with style. One goal was a laser from the top of the slot, and another was a nifty little forehand on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Salmon must be good for hip injuries. Paulie's final tally capped a second period in which the Blues scored three times in 5:05. The Blues skated hard, pressured, ran into the corners, and didn't give up. They also managed 10 penalties over the course of both games. The Tampa Bay Lightning registered 11 last Saturday. The Thrashers will have to be much more disciplined and stay out of the box.
99 Luftballoons - Christoph Schubert is hung up with immigration, delaying his Atlanta Thrashers debut on Thursday. Schubert stands to be a decent addition on the penalty kill, something the Thrashers could use.
Old Time Rock and Roll - The Chris Mason/Ty Conklin goalie tandem split the Euro-starts, and the results were remarkably similar:
Add that to the fact that this was versus a not-too-shabby Detroit Red Wing team, and Walter Matthau & Jack Lemmon here are doing just fine.
Speaking of old men, Kariya, Keith Tkachuk, Andy McDonald, & Darryl Sydor combined for 12 points over the two games. Somebody's been taking their Geritol.
EDIT - Massive omission on my part: Ilya Kovalchuk is one goal away from 300 in his career. Walt got his 1000th point at Phillips, I'll bet we see Kovy's 300th goal in St. Lou.
People Are Strange
Just Plain Weird
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. - According to Andy Strickland, Andy Murray refers to his forward lines by color instead of numbers.
Tim's Keys to the Game
Okay, fine. I'll stick with Aaron's music theme...
(Don't) Hang Me Up To Dry: Ondrej Pavelec faced 39 shots at home in the opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Thrashers need to make some adjustments and reduce the Shots Against column for a tough road game against a Blues squad that, like the Thrashers, features plenty of young talent.
Kiss Kiss Kill Kill: The Thrashers still aren't likely to have a top-notch penalty killing squad this year. It'll be important to stay out of the box as much as possible, this game included. St. Louis is 4-for-9 on the Power Play (44.4%) in two games this year, and while that's a pretty small sample size, we can state this with a John Maddenism: "It'd be better to not be shorthanded." That said, the team showed a lot of toughness and respect for each other on Saturday with two fights and several cases of teammates sticking up for each other. The Thrash need to be ready to get tough and drop the gloves or they'll get pushed around out there... (Last year's Buffalo Sabres, anyone?)
Self-Esteem: This is the Blues' home opener and will include the unveiling of an Al MacInnis statute before the game. The crowd will likely be large and pumped up. It'll be important for the Thrashers to get off to a good start--scoring the first goal would be huge. If they give up an early goal, it'll be a tough road to even the game back up.
A fun side note: the game preview on the Blues page is chock-full of errors and inaccuracies. See if you can find any in this snippet:
Both squads have several new faces since their last meeting. Atlanta has added defensemen Pavel Kubina and Steve McCarthy, and forwards Tim Stapleton, Nik Antropov and Maxim Afinogenov, as well as 18-year-old Evander Kane, the No. 4 pick of the 2009 Entry Draft. Also, German defenseman Christoph Schubert, who the Thrashers claimed on waivers from Ottawa last Friday, is expected to make his season debut.
Steve McCarthy went straight to Chicago. Tim Stapleton wasn't on our opening night roster, he too was sent to Chicago before the season began. Schubert likely won't play due to immigration issues. But yes, we did add Kubina, Antropov, and Kane! Left unmentioned is Rich Peverley, Mark Popovic, and Anssi Salmela, none of whom were with the Thrashers when we last played St. Louis on November 30, 2008. Zach Bogosian missed that game as well due to a broken leg. Our roster looks significantly different from that point last year--in fact, only 12 of 20 starters (ignoring scratched players) from the last game will play tonight.
What can I say? I'm a stickler for details.