Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Biggest Thrasher Day in History, Part 1

Well I'm back from the Thrashers home finale and it was a minature replica of the entire season-- a roller coaster of thrills and chills. Despite falling behind 1-0, 2-0 and 3-2 the team rallied for a 4-3 win on goals by Sutton and Slater in the 3rd period. Dunham let in a bad goal along the ice from the side in the first and the team allowed another short handed goal. Strangely I was confident that they would win given the team's potent offense. A word of thanks to the friends who provided us with great seats in the lower level for the game.

Before the game awards were handed out. Hossa and Kovalchuk were named co-MVP. You could argue it was a cop-out to split the award but I think it was appropriate this season. If forced to I would have picked Hossa over Kovalchuk because of his strong positional play allows Hartely to use him on the penalty kill and that has led to 8 short handed goals this season for him (to put that in perspective, Hossa's personal shorthanded goal production exceeds or ties that of 10 NHL teams!).

Nick Havelid won the Dan Snyder award for being the team's unsung hero. I heard through the grapevine that it was a landslide vote. People around the club realize just how valuable this guy has been this year. I shudder to think about the Thrashers defense without him as a stabilizing force back there all year.

After the game, the team renewed the annual tradition of selecting fans from the crowd to come onto the ice and receive the jerseys off the backs of each player. The Fan-of-the-Year gets to pick which player's jersey he/she will receive. This year's winner stunned me, when they asked the fan which player's jersey he wanted he called out Captain Scott Mellanby. A classy tribute to a great team leader this season who probably played his final NHL regular season home game. I'll be honest, I was not excited when the Thrashers signed him and less so when they made him captain but I was wrong about him. He was a valuable addition. He can still work the cycle down low and crash the crease--old time hockey. I'm glad I had a chance to see him in his final NHL season.

It is also quite likely that Peter Bondra's career is winding down as well. The man works very hard but the speed and shot that induced fear among NHL defensemen have dimished to the point where it is time to hang up the skates I think. It is sad to see, because I remember what a great goal scoring year he had in the short 1994 season when he led the league in goals. I can't believe that was 12 years ago!

Now we must sit and wait for tonight's game between Tampa and Carolina. If Carolina manages to beat Tampa in regulation I think the Thrashers will get into the playoffs. Both of their last two games against the Capitals and Panthers are winnable and the team is playing with great jump and confidence right now. I think tonight is crucial becasue I don't see Tampa losing to the Capitals in their final regular season game--anything is possible--but on paper Carolina is much better team than Washington.

Time to sit down and watch the most important non-Thrasher game in the Thrasher's brief history

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