Four Reasons for Concern In Blueland
Chemistry. We've been down this road before, folks. Remember last year? Jason Williams was supposed to be a talented scorer that was going to center Ilya Kovalchuk to a third round playoff run. Mathieu Schneider was supposed to be not just a mentor to Zach Bogosian, but a quarterback to lead our power play out of sub-mediocrity. Erik Christensen was supposed to anchor our secondary scoring with his little dipsy-do abilities. How many of those guys even came close to fulfilling those expectations (other than Schneider's mentoring of Bogo)?
The Ilya Kovalchuk Three Ring Circus and Big Top. Every arena (but Atlanta's) will have a media mob, frothing at the mouth to disrupt the Thrashers dressing room in any way they can with trade speculation, contract questions, and general stupidity. I don't know if you've noticed, but the rest of the NHL has decided that Atlanta doesn't deserve Ilya Kovalchuk, and would love to see him in any other sweater as soon as fricken possible. If our boys can manage to tune out all of the rampant idiocy, they'll be ok; but, man, those dancing elephants in Montreal can be very distracting...
33 Shots Per Game. That's how many shots against the Thrashers averaged in the 08-09 campaign. -4.6 shots per game. That's the shot differential (per game) for last year's Thrashers (League average? Zero, strangely enough). Of course, these numbers aren't such a worry if you have a solid cut-and-dry number one goalie behind you to... oh wait...
Weasels, Ponies, and Moose, Oh My. The Thrashers goalie carousel continued it's roundabouts last year as Kari Lehtonen was felled by injuries, what, three times? Neither Ondrej Pavelec nor Johan Hedberg could provide consistent relief. Remember that dark night in December when the Bruins lit 'em up for 4 goals in about the first period? Something has to change if the Thrashers are to have any hope of a playoff run. If Atlanta fails in net again this year, it won't be for lack of trying. Check out the list of names invited to camp: Hedberg, Lehtonen, Drew Macintyre, Peter Mannino, Pavelec, and now Manny Legace. Let me say it again: Manny Legace. Some how, some way, one of those FIVE gentlemen must have enough goalkeeping ability to keep the Thrashers in any given game. Right?
Enough pessimism for today. If you'd like to check out some other stuff I've contributed lately, check out these links: