Let's face it, the Hurricanes have earned a downgrade. At 14-27-7, they're last in the NHL. They've already begun to ask players with no-trade clauses to waive them. They've faced the Thrashers twice this season and lost both games. In the first, the Thrashers led what has been their greatest comeback victory of the year. In the second, scoring was neck-and-neck: Atlanta took the early lead, but Carolina tied it up, only to give up 2 goals and find themselves behind... before tying it up... before giving up 2 more goals.
Admittedly, the Canes have played near-0.500 hockey since week 6 or so, but with such a precipitous fall to begin the season, they're practically already eliminated from the playoffs.
The preview continues after the jump...
Of course, we can't say much more for the Thrashers; they are, at best, teetering on the brink. They've shown less ability to score goals lately, being shutout by the Panthers and scoring just one against the Sabres. Coach Anderson seems to have found Shuffle Mode on his line combination chart again. They're playing better in January than they did in December, but 4-3-3 isn't exactly top-notch. If we extend this month's play - 1.1 points per game - through the end of the season, the Thrashers will finish with 87 points. That's likely to be outside the playoffs.
It is crucial that the Thrashers pick up as many points as possible against teams like Carolina. Luckily, the schedule the rest of the way out is loaded with games against Carolina, Tampa, Florida, Minnesota, and Toronto. That is, of course, until the very end. In April, we play 5 games against just 3 different teams: Washington, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh.
Tonight's Three Questions of the Game:
- Can the Thrashers stop being their own worst enemy? Inopportune penalties, poor defensive reads, little defensive-zone support from forwards: these are the Thrashers' weaknesses. In hockey, the better team will usually win so long as they don't defeat themselves. The Thrashers should have no difficulty securing two points in this contest if they play with confidence and awareness.
- Can the Thrashers score more than a goal two games in a row? Here's the goals forced over the past six games: 1, 6, 1, 5, 0, 4. It's been something of a rollercoaster. A game tonight against the weak Canes defense could be just what the doctor ordered to get this offense back in gear.
- Power Play Goals, where art thou? In the last 10 power play opportunities, the Thrashers have 1 goal. In the 10 before that, 1 goal. In the 10 before that, 1 goal. In the 10 before that, 1 goal. In the 10 before that, 1 goal. The last stretch of 10 they had more than 1 goal ran from December 21st (MTL) to January 1st (BUF), during which they had 2 goals. The Thrashers power play has been remarkably consistent... consistently poor. In fact, since November 15th, the Thrashers have scored 2 power play goals in just a single game: the 6-5 victory over the Dallas Stars.
I'd love to hear what you guys think about the power play, so please vote in tonight's poll. On a personal note, I'll be on a flight from Chicago to Detroit during the game, so I won't be able to watch. I'm hoping to DVR it and catch up over the weekend, though. Go Thrashers!
The Thrashers' power play has been struggling because...
This poll is closed
Slava Kozlov and Colby Armstrong don't deserve to be on the ice during the PP.
We're playing too many guys on the perimeter and we can't get a lane to the skater in the crease.
John Anderson brought a curse upon the team when he lost the mustache before the end of Movember.
The offense as a whole has been struggling, the PP numbers are in line with the overall decline.
We've got a fever... and the only prescription is more cowbell.