Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Four Reasons the Thrashers Will Do Better This Year

This being the first preseason for the blueland outsider, I wanted to do some kind of season preview. So, in little bite size chunks, I give you four reasons why I think the Thrashers will be much improved this year. As a bonus, I've included my suggested lines for the upcoming season. So... don't sweat it Coach Johnny, I took care of it for ya, and I won't tell anyone. My man. Tomorrow, we'll have Four Reasons for Concern. I know, limiting it to four is going to be tough, but I'm up to the challenge.


Four Reasons the Thrashers Will Do Better This Year

Addition By Addition. The Thrashers actually went out and picked up not one, but two “name” players this summer. Nik Antropov is a big man not afraid of going into the kitchen to get himself a snack. Whomever he's lined up with (and my preferred lines are at the end of this post) will benefit from this fact. Imagine this, if you will: A Bogo-Kovy-Little-Pevs-Antro power play unit. Or, Kovalchuk on the left, Peverley on the right, and Antropov and his big ole butt planted directly in front of Varlamov or Fleury or anybody, with Antro burying a rebound from his comrade's howitzer of a slap shot. Kubina is a top-four d-man, to be sure, but even the fact that his outlet passes are better than Garnet Exelby's, plants this deal in the upgrade column. Kubina also brings an offensive sensibility that Exelby just didn't have, and solidifies (as well as legitimizes) the Thrashers top four defensemen.

Addition By Subtraction. Jason Williams. Erik Christensen. Eric Perrin. Nic Havelid. All non-believers, all gone. Williams moved on to Columbus, had some on-ice success, but is now with his 4th club in 3 years. Christensen... well, I don't wanna pile on. Eric Perrin was extremely unhappy last year. The only anti-Havelid statement I'll make is this: fantastic player, not the right kind of player for HC Johnny A's system. You could see he wasn't the player he had been – pretty easy to cover up in a conservative system, not so much when you're mongoosing your opponent to death. In a big-picture sense, the ajc.com article from yesterday seems to confirm what I thought: not everyone was buying the kind of burgers John Anderson was selling. Once again, not to pick on X too much (love ya, baby), Kubina is an upgrade at an historically weak spot for the Thrashers.

Let the Kids Play. A full season of Bogo and Tobes has me very excited. Call me crazy, but I have a hunch that this will become the Thrashers top d-pairing by the end of this year. After a rough start to their partnership last year, they began to coalesce into a pretty tough pair. Having seen a full year of what Brian Little can do, I can easily picture him being a point-per-game player. Tim Stapleton is a big unknown, but just might have the type of game that could earn him some ice time in a complimentary system and a Thrasher lineup that has some space. Anssi Salmella. Nathan Oystrick. Boris Valabik. They're all too young to know they're not supposed to win.

The Last 26 Games. February 15, 2009 thru April 11, 2009. 16-9-1. The leadership of Ilya Kovalchuk. 8 short-handed goals. A 9-4 home record. The comeback shootout victory over the Rangers. Kari's 50 saves against Washington. A whole bunch of very quiet Sabre fans shuffling out of Phillips. No one wants to see the Thrashers succeed more than I do, and even my homerism can't conceal the fact that Atlanta played some incredibly solid hockey last year. If they play this whole year as they played the last third of last year, we WILL see extra hockey in Atlanta this April.


The Offical blueland outsider Line Combos!
(note: I didn't forget Evander Kane. My personal feeling is that he might need just one more year in juniors to bulk up before he can be effective in Atlanta. Sure, he might be able to make the team out of camp, but I just don't see him on the top two lines, and I think it would be a disservice to him to play on the third or fourth lines. I may change my mind between now and opening night, but... I doubt it.)

Kovalchuk – Peverley – Antropov
Swap the Dispenser & Antro as needed.

Kozlov – White – Little
The Kahlua line won't be as strong this year, but will still have some kick.

Stewart/Crabb/Sterling – Reasoner – Armstrong
Imma call this The Business Line. As in, it's Business Time, call the Business Line. And this Business Line brings the Party.

Thorburn – Slater – Boulton
The Return of the Greek Gods.

Hainsey – Kubina
Bogosian – Enstrom
Valabik/Salmella/Oystrick

Please allow me to leave you with this nugget of wisdom for you to marinate on:

Being a Thrasher fan – it's kind of like being punk rock in a hick town.

5 comments:

Thrashers Recaps said...

How about a Kovy-Antro-Kovy-Antro-Kovy power play? Basically a Big Mac sandwich of cloned Kovys and Antropovs.

aaron said...

With a side of cloned Peverleys and Littles would be nice...

Daculafan said...

Love your points...and totally think you're spot on...can't wait to see the 4 points you're concerned on...I'm sure Kari will be in there. Like your line combos also...

This year is going to rock!!

Come over to my blog sometime and say hey

Wayne stuck in AL said...

This is all well and good, but notice everyone is talking about the offense; it's the Thrashers' D that hasn't improved all that much...we gave up an average of FIVE SHOTS PER GAME more than Detroit. (I'll have further comment on this in an email in a few days.)

TK said...

Aaron,

First of all I wanted to say I enjoy your blog and it was nice to meet you at that draft party at TJ's (this is Tim, the guy who went to school with Brent and sat with you, your wife, and your friend Rob that night.)

I agree with all your points and can't wait to for the season to get here.

Hope all is well.