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Gameday: Thrashers at Canadiens

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Yes, the insane pace continues. The Thrashers have games this week on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday (and play another next Sunday). Luckily, the Thrashers are getting back Nik Antropov for today's game. Tim Stapleton has been returned to the Chicago Wolves. Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in goal.

Here's your NHL.com team comparison:

STATS
41 GP 39
20 W 21
15 L 16
6 OT 2
46 P 44
0.561 P% 0.564
3.05 G/G 2.49
2.88 GA/G 2.36
20.9 PP% 18.5
80.8 PK% 87.8
30.8 S/G 31.9
34.1 SA/G 29.5
50.0 FO% 49.2

The Thrashers and Canadiens are two teams that, statistics-wise, are a pretty even match. The Thrashers tend to both score and allow more goals while the Canadiens play a more defensive game, but in terms of results and outscoring-margins, they're relatively even.

Both teams have taken a tumble lately, however: the Thrashers are 3-4-3 in their last 10, the Canadiens just 3-7-0. I've suggested that the Thrashers' troubles are largely related to their schedule, and while January is certainly an easier month than December, don't expect that to change right away. The Thrashers' first real chance at getting some rest will be next week when they have a break between Sunday's game against the Hurricanes and Friday's game against the Flyers. Of course, that Friday game is the first of three games in four nights (including away games at Dallas and Florida).

Still, the Thrashers find themselves opening the new year with a 20-15-6 record. This was better than I was expecting: in fact, I believe I said on our season-introduction radio show that I'd be thrilled if we made it through the first few months at 0.500 and started to get a few games above 0.500 by the trade deadline. Five games over 0.500 is nearly good enough for a playoff spot if we play 0.500 hockey the rest of the way through the season. (I'd expect 8 games over - 90 points - to be a reasonable entry point for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.)

A win today against Montreal would keep the Thrashers in the 7th position in the Eastern Conference. That's far more than most of us were expecting at this point and not too shabby for a team that's still very young.