Recently I noted that Gabriel Desjardins watched every Sharks Goal Against using the highlights on www.NHL.com. I dared you readers to do the same thing for the Thrashers. Well one of you was a glutton for punishment and not only watched all the games but wrote up a short description as well!
Reader Taste of Flames sent me a 30 page MS Word document with each goal against. I'm not going to post all of the games, but I will post one game to give you a flavor of his documentation. When he was all finished with this project I asked him to give his overall impressions after going through this exercise. Those summary comments follow the example.
Special Report by Taste of Flames
Game 39: @ Panthers 1/10/09
Thrashers lose 8-4 (that’s what I get for celebrating the shutout…)
Goal 1: Frolik scores on a penalty shot
Havelid hooked him on a breakaway. I probably wouldn’t have called this a penalty shot; Frolik only had about a half step on Havelid.
Goal 2: Bouwmeester scores on a rebound
Panthers scored on a delayed penalty call; I don’t know who it was called on though, so I’m not blaming anybody.
Goal 3: (SH) Dvorak slap shot
Guess where this was scored from…top of the circle. Un-screened slap shot from far out, Kari should have had this all day long.
Goal 4: Peltonen 1-timer
Peltonen walks right around Slater and into the high slot, where he gets a pass and 1-times it home. Slater seemed completely unaware of his surroundings on the play.
Goal 5: Stillman wrister from the…top of the circle
So it’s not a slap shot, but he faked slap and went with the wrist, so close enough. Kari needs to work on this kind of shot.
Goal 6: Booth off a sweet passing play
Panthers execute a 3-on-3 about as perfectly as you can on this play. No blame here.
Goal 7: Peltonen 1-timer from the high slot
Peltonen and Campbell with a little give and go. Kovlachuk got beat challenging Peltonen out high and never recovered. He should have dropped back a touch and read the play before trying to make a stop on Peltonen.
Goal 8: Horton wrist from the slot.
He came streaking in off the wing and put a little toe drag move on Schneider to get to the middle and fired a wrist shot. I’ll blame Schneider for getting beat.
Overall Season Comments:
Valabik’s lack of foot-speed is pretty disconcerting. He’s about 2 steps behind everything. Still, his size/reach alone should make him an effective PKer if ever manages to take advantage of it. He needs to work on cleanly clearing the net and how to use his stick properly. If he can improve these two areas, he should be a great PK, even if you want to shelter him with 5/6 d-man minutes even strength.
Lehtonen has got to work on stopping long, hard shots. It seems like everytime someone unloads from the top of the circles, they score. I don’t know if that’s a common thing across the league, Moose let in a few like that, but it seems like a disproportionate amount of Kari’s GA came from this type of shot. I know he wears contacts, could his problem with these shots be because of his vision?
Bogosian played mistake free hockey for the most part last year. I truly think had he not missed 35 games with a broken leg, he would have won the Calder.
Exelby was to blame for far less goals than I expected, but Schneider was brutal and Hainsey, well…at least Hainsey puts in the effort to try and stop the puck.
Havelid had a tendency to try and block shots, leaving a player open on the door step. Considering how much crap Ex took for getting out of position with his hitting, I would like to know how Havelid escaped the same kind of criticism for his shot blocking. He also gives the shooter lots of space to aim and fire. I don’t care if he’s a shot blocking defense-man, pressure the shooter!
It’s amazing, the difference between the first half of the season and the second with this team. For about 40 games, if they were down by 2, it was pretty much a done deal. I noticed a lot of lazy back checking and all-around apathy on goals scored late in the game when they were down. Around the time Kovy got the captaincy, that trend reversed itself. The Thrashers seemed to learn, between periods, to not give up on the game.
It seems like the PK cost the Thrashers damn near a goal every game. Going back to look at the stats, they allowed 88 PPGA, read: just over a goal per game. I’d be willing to bet that the PK cost the team at least 10 points in the standings. I want to say that Slater got bumped off the PK towards the end of the season, either that or he learned how to play on it. I didn’t notice his poor play on the PK in the last 20 or so games.
The Thrashers cannot, repeat CANNOT, clear rebounds to save their life. I can’t count the number of times the puck was sitting in the crease and Kari had to make a nice save or the opposing team just scored. This was a very ugly aspect of last seasons D. A lot of that is on Kari as well, he’s got to control his rebounds better.