Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Monday, January 12, 2009

This Blog Has Moved!!!

After two very successful years at Blogger, Thrashers Talons has moved to a new location at Sports Blog Nation (aka SB Nation). As part of the move I am unveiling a new blog name as well. Henceforth it will be know as "Bird Watcher's Anonymous" which will continue the Brown Thrasher/Falconer theme begun here.

The content at the new site will be very similar to what I have created here at blogger, but the new setting will enable me to insert tables and other items with greater ease. In addition, my Thrashers blog will be nestled among other blogs covering every pro sports team. SB Nation is in the process of building their stable of NHL bloggers and I'm honored that they invited me to write about our local team.

Before departing I must thank all of the many readers who have visited this site over the last two years. I started writing this because I was frustrated by the lack of reading material about the Atlanta Thrashers. The old adage is "write the book you'd like to read" and that is what I have tried to do here.

To be honest I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of readership. In 2006 I had just over 6,000 readers (over 5,000 unique). The following year readership exploded upward to 41,000 hits (32,000 unique) and then it doubled once again in 2008 to 81,000 hits (64,000 unique). It was rather amazing to see Thrashers Talons break the 100,000 hit mark recently.

There have been numerous occasions when I have been very depressed about the state of the Atlanta Thrashers and felt little inspiration to post. But I knew that each day readers would be clicking over to this page to read something and that kept me posting on the really rough times. So thanks for coming back and please make head over to SB Nation to check out the new digs! :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Florida Manges Snowman Against Thrashers

After playing rather well and getting a shut out versus New Jersey, Kari Lehtonen played his worst game of the year.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Ilya Nikulin All Star Starter

Per James Mirtle, Nikulin received the most votes for Team Russia in the KHL All-Star game.
I wonder how he would look in a powder blue jersey?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Thrashers Trade Talk/DW about to be fired?

Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post-Dispatch beat blog writes:
Howson has spoken with numerous GMs around the league, letting them know what the Blue Jackets have to offer and what they want. Toronto, Ottawa, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders have been contacted by Howson. It is likely that other teams have heard from him, as well.
The problem is that center is a prime shopping target for Columbus and the Thrashers have their own needs at that position. Aaron Portzline then goes through each of these teams and tries to sniff out what might be up. His comments on Atlanta are most interesting:

Atlanta: This one doesn't make much sense, plus there's lots of talk that Atlanta GM Don Waddell is soon to be fired, that he can't make any moves right now if he wanted to. The Blue Jackets don't want Todd White. The Thrash won't move Brian Little, a 21-year-old with 19 goals.
(emphasis added)
If ownership is thinking about making a change at the top of the organization (and why wouldn't they at this point) that certainly makes the trade deadline more complicated. Would they tell DW he can only move veterans for draft picks? If you don't have full confidence in your GM's ability to evaluate talent (and who would) then you might not want him dealing Thrasher veterans for prospects/players either.

In terms of trading with Columbus the Blue Jackets sit just 2 points out of a playoff spot today (although their playoff odds are just 34%). In seems more likely that Columbus has made phone calls about pending UFA wings and defensemen such as Jason Williams, Nic Havelid and Mathieu Schneider who might be added for the playoff push in that city.

Thrashers Grab Bag

A collection of odds and ends today.

The Thrashers take on the Penguins tonight--a team that has been in an absolute free fall in the standings lately. Check out the graph for the Atlantic Division here. I'm sure the Penguins view a match against the Thrashers as a easy opponent.

UPDATE: I just got my spam email from the Pittsburgh Penguins promoting this game it reads as follows:

Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins can't seem to score these days. As a result, they've dropped five consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Crosby's rookie season. A date with the league's worst defensive team might be the perfect solution. The Penguins will try to put an end to their losing streak and their offensive drought on Tuesday when they host the last-place Atlanta Thrashers.

The Thrashers played an exciting game versus Vancouver, but the Canucks looked dog tired from travel and their previous game. The fact that it took a SO to get both points is not a sign of strength for the Thrashers. Then they looked like a sure fire lottery team while playing Tampa on Sunday afternoon.

Kovalchuk has been playing better of late, although it has not translated into point yet (I don't know about Kovalchuk, but I'm sick of Erik Christensen making opposition goalies look good--will he ever score a regulation goal when it matters?) Kovalchuk is making more good decisions on the ice and fewer bad ones.

Angelo Esposito was nearly invisible for most of the World Junior Tournament but then woke up and scored two very nice goals in the semi-final and final game. I suppose that's why people say he needs to work on his consistency. His inconsistent work pattern will fit in just fine with the current Thrashers squad.

I liked what I saw in Nicklas Lasu in the Championship game. He was a gritty checker who brings a physical edge to his game. They mentioned in the broadcast that Team Sweden wanted him to be their Tomas Holmstron but the hands may not be good enough for that. Still if he plays like that on a regular basis I could see him holding down a spot on a NHL checking line.

Sorry for the sparse posting of late. I'm close to making a major change with the blog and should have an announcement soon.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Atlanta Hawks Slash Ticket Prices for 2nd Half

The other side of the Atlanta Spirit are offering discounts of 75% for people who buy the rest of the season. Keep in mind that the Hawks are actually having a pretty decent season.

This is a short run cash grab by the ownership that will discourage people from buying full season tickets next year. It provides a strong dis-incentive to buy up front over the summer.

It makes you wonder if a) the Atlanta Spirit is in terrible fiscal shape and is so desperate for money that they're trying to limp to the finish line or b) the current ownership expects to lose their control of the teams in the near feature and are looking to staunch the bleeding.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Esposito at the WJC

I've watched two of Team Canada's games at the World Juniors and I'm completely underwhelmed by Angelo Esposito so far. He started off the tournament on a line with uber-prospect John Tavares but did little to impress and was moved to a lower line. He missed on quite a few set up passes from Tavares.

I just finished watching the Canada/USA game and he was rather ineffectual again. The only time he seemed to have the puck is when he attempted Kovalchuk-esque 1 versus 3 offensive rushes while his linemates changed behind the play. He had one great play where he came down the side boards turned the corner on the defenseman and drove across the front of the crease but failed to score. That's pretty much the only thing exciting out of him in two games.

Gare Joyce wrote a book about scouting prospects during Esposito's draft year called "Future Greats and Heartbreaks: A Year Undercover in the Secret World of NHL Scouts." Esposito entered the year as the leading candidate to be the #1 overall pick after racking up huge point totals while playing along side Alexander Radulov in the Q. Joyce interviewed and watched Esposito multiple times over that draft year. His take is that Esposito seemed to just wilt under the pressure.

Esposito's stock fell during that season and on draft day he ended up falling to #20 where the Pittsburgh Penguins took him. The Thrashers didn't have a 1st rounder because of the Tkachuk trade, but if they probably would have drafted him if they had not dealt their pick. Later when they had the opportunity to acquire him in the Marian Hossa trade they did so. Don Waddell told Esposito "to relax and try to have some fun" in juniors.

Now there are two ways to look at a guy like Esposito. On the one hand, you could say that some 18 year old young men are simply not prepared to handle the scrutiny of being the "best player" in hockey mad Canada--with time Esposito might mature into a tougher individual and become a productive NHLer. On the other hand, the NHL is a pressure packed league and you need guys on your roster who can handle the intensity and bright spotlight of high leverage situations.

The thing that concerns me most about watching Esposito at the WJC so far is that the weight of Canada doesn't rest on his shoulders--John Tavares is carrying that particular cross. This is not his draft year and he's not facing the other team's best defensemen. Yet even with these lower expectations and lower pressure level he looks very ordinary matched up against other top hockey players in his age group.

He was always a high risk/high reward sort of prospect--right now I'm not terribly encouraged by what I see. The guy has skill but seems to really lack the mental composition needed to play versus top competition. He could still turn things around but right now his stock is continuing to fall in my opinion.

Big WJC Battle Tonight! USA v Canada!

Tonight is the most celebrated game of the World Junior Tournament prior to the medal playoffs. The game will be carried on the NHL Network live.

Here are the draft eligible players for each squad if you want to check on the talent that will be available at the draft this summer.

Team USA
Jordan Schroeder #19: Right handed forward from U. of Minnesota, ranked #6 on International Scouting Services most recent draft list.

Team Canada
John Tavares: #19: Potential NHL superstar who has who is battling Victor Hedman to be the #1 overall pick this summer. Right now ISS has Hedman ahead and Tavares #2.

Evander Kane #29: Forward from the Vancouver Giants. ISS had him ranked as a high first rounder (7th overall) and it seems he has lived up to the advance praise.

Ryan Ellis #8: Defenseman from Windsor Spitfires. A bit on the small side at 5'9" but ISS ranks him at a mid first rounder (16th overall).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tickermaster Hurting

While driving in the car this afternoon Clark Howard mentioned that Ticketmaster net income fell 76% in the last quarter and the organization has begun experimenting with surcharge free ticket sales.

Clark Howard has regularly ripped Ticketmaster for grotesque "surcharges" on tickets that only cost pennies to print and mail. In reality what Ticketmaster was doing was paying kickbacks to arenas and then charging even more to consumers once they became a monopoly supplier.

I'm one of those consumers who will go to significant lengths to avoid the extra changers. I always buy my Braves tickets at the box office and same with extra Thrasher tickets. I often buy my concert tickets at the box office as well to avoid paying the "monopoly" charges.

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