Ice time more evenly spread out this time. Boulton is probably leading the NHL is scoring efficiency given that he now has 2 points in only 12 minutes of ice time.
|Player||G||A||PTS||PLUS||SOG||ES TOI||PP TOI||SH TOI||TT TOI|
Darren Eliot hit the nail on the head when remarked that the Thrashers had made very few mistakes. Much easier to win when you don't beat yourself.
Salmela: I wasn't blown away with him when he was acquired late late season in exchange for Nic Havelid, but Anssi has been an extremely solid defensemen in all the pre-season games in the first two games of the regular season. He made one mistake that I can recall in the game.
Schubert: Had a couple of good hits and solid positional play. At one point I twittered "wow, so this is what having a solid
top four top six defense looks like. What a difference.
Kane: Got his first NHL goal and it was a pretty one. A nice triangle passing play left Kane wide open dead center in the slot area with time to pick a spot and he buried the chance. His confidence should be high. So far his work on the PK has been solid. He can't really knock anyone down, but he's not getting run over by bigger men either.
Peverley: Yet another great performance. Great patience with the puck and vision to go with accurate passing. I was not expecting him to repeat his torrid 2nd half performance, but so far he has proved me wrong.
Pavelec: He is scary to watch, but he gets the job done. Reminds me of Pasi Nurminen in that respect. He received some great help from the D at times as they converged and knocked Blues forwards on their butts (Amen!). When Haisey and Kubina lost their position Pavelec made a huge point black save to keep the score at 3-1. The goal that made it 3-2 was tipped just a couple of feet in front of Ondrej. Is Lehtonen getting concerned yet?
Kovalchuk: Looks extremely motivated. His cutback move on the goal was simply amazing. Then Kovalchuk hit the post on the PP, you could see just how badly he wanted to score and push a 2-1 lead up to 3-1. Coach Anderson put Ilya out in the final minutes with a 1 goal lead and he got a huge D-zone clear and then the EN Goal.
Armstrong: It was interesting to hear the intermission interviews about the Thrashers strong 2nd half last season. Armstrong talked about a team BBQ. He indicated that when guys care about each other it show up on the ice.
Boulton: The battle to stay in the lineup is intense and Boulton keeps making plays in his limited ice time. He was putting on some skilled moves in pre-season and now has 2 points in 2 games.
What an exciting game! If you take a look at my keys to the game from the pre-game post, well... I feel like I nailed it. Reduce the shots-on-goal? Only 31 - check. Watch out for bad penalties? Just 3 on the night. Don't get shaken if the Blues jump to an early lead? No, sir! I thought it was a great all around team effort, so rather than evaluate individual performances, I'd prefer to look at the performances of lines.
Kane-Peverley-Armstrong: When the lines displayed on the TV before the game started, I turned to my girlfriend and commented, "That's a strong line! Wow!" I've been advocating for keeping Peverley and Armstrong together for awhile. I blogged last season about how those two should be paired with Kozlov. I've argued that point relentlessly on the Thrashers message boards. I'm pretty sure I've convinced a couple people that it's a good move. Well, if I haven't convinced you yet, perhaps they'll get the job done. With speedy Evander Kane on the left wing, this is a line that has good vision, good hands, and good speed (great speed except for Colby... Sorry Colbs...) and the ability to finish. We saw it last night, and I think we'll continue to see it throughout the season. Will this line score a goal every game? Probably not. (Technically they have 3 so far.) I'd estimate we see about 60 or 65 goals between the three of them. That's a damn good "3rd" line, folks.
Goaltending: Let's face it, goaltending is more of a team stat than most hockey fans like to admit. Last night we saw a great example of this: Ondrej Pavelec was making the first saves, but he needed Thrashers defensemen to shut down opposing forwards in the crease, clear the puck out, and neutralize any second chances. Last night it worked. Last season it did not. I agree with the consensus I've heard about Pavelec: he's a heart attack-inducing extortionist in the paint... For now, he's making the saves. If he continues making the saves, I see no reason to rush Kari Lehtonen back to the team. I think goaltending may be our Interesting Story Line of the Year.
Penalty Kill: Doesn't Kane look good on the penalty kill? In just his 2nd NHL game, Kane led the Thrashers forwards in PK time and played extraordinarily well. As a whole, the difference in the PK this year seems to be presence of mind. (huh?) Our guys know where they need to be, they know who their man is, they know when to pinch and collapse, and they know where to clear. They seem to be tracking the puck better than last year. I'm not sure I know why they are doing all of these things better, but I'm certainly happy about it.
Boulton-Reasoner-Thorburn: Don't look now, but the "Best 4th Line in the NHL" has goals in two straight games. If they keep playing like this, I might have to take the quotes off of that. Marty Reasoner led the Thrashers at +2.
The Top-6: These guys are going to need to start producing at even-strength if the Thrashers are going to be a winning team. It's all well-and-good for Kovalchuk to net PPGs and ENs, but if these lines don't step it up, the team is in trouble.
Definitely another exciting game. The team seemed to battle all night, even with that loud sellout crowd at Scottrade Center.
Congratulations go to two players last night:
- Evander Kane - Scored his first NHL goal on a great feed by Rich Peverley that put Kane in perfect position to choose his shot.
- Ilya Kovalchuk - Scored his 300th and 301st goals of his career. The move he made to get number 300 was a thing of beauty. Looks like he wants to challenge Ovechkin for Richard this year more than ever.
Things that stood out to me:
Penalty Kill--The Thrashers played a talented and very efficient Power Play squad last night, and gave up zero PPG and only 3 shots. What was different? They played the forecheck on every player. Pucks were cleared last night more so than I’ve seen in a long time. Let’s hope the boys keep that up.
Shots on Goal--For the second straight game (yeah, I know, we only played two, shh) the team was outshot by a good margin (31-22). They played better defensively, keeping StL to that ~30 SOG mark, but only 22 shots? I don’t want to sound pessimistic, because hey, if it gets the job done. But this stat will need to increase, as 2 goals on the first 3 shots isn’t going to be the norm.
Ondrej Pavelec--This man just exudes confidence. Just like last game, although a little less, he causes me to bite my lip at times, but he never quits. Reminds me of that other goaltender we have. So far his form has been good, his positioning has been good, and his battling has been superb. My guess is he’ll learn to not go so out of position, so he doesn’t have to make those diving stick saves, but he seems to be aware of his positioning regardless.
Evander Kane--I can honestly admit, I didn’t expect such a solid performance from him this early. He’s still tiny compared to the other men out there, but he’s not quitting. His PK abilities are showing and he’s battling to get the puck out of the zone. That nifty spin move he made to clear the puck looked scripted it was so nice. He keeps it up, he may be staying all 82.
The New 4th Line--Looked good in their first appearance. As I believe Darren Eliot mentioned during the game, it’s a wise move to have Reasoner out there with linemates on the PK. They can develop some chemistry for each situation by playing together regularly. Slater can stay in the pressbox.
The fact that the Thrashers (and Pavelec in particular) rallied after Tkachuk's goal is a fantastic sign. There were times last year this team would've rolled over & died, but that's just it: this is not last years' team. Ilya Kovalchuk's energy is infectious, and everyone's legs are moving. Salmella's diving swipe, the Army-Peverley-Kane 3-on-2, none of this was present this time last year. There were things to be improved upon if this team wants to lock up the postseason: the PK could've been a little tighter, and the Blues being jetlagged didn't hurt. Pavelec's strength last night was his energy, and he reallys seems to be in a much better headspace (remember this little gem last year against Boston? Yeesh.). But once that energy wears out, the cracks in the fundamentals are going to show. Fortunately, he's young and has some time to fix that. HUGE props to his defense for DEFENDING the goal. That shots for/shots against ratio... well, those other guys are better at talking stats than me. It's been a while since it felt really, really good to be a Thrashers fan.
How SICK was Kovy's move for goal number 300?