Gameday Preview – Something’s Gotta Give



Well folks, I had a very detailed, rather lengthy discussion of the Thrashers drawn up this morning. A post I lost due to some idiocy on my end and the vagueries of this blogging platform. As a result, I’m going to re-do it all in bullet-points to spare my sanity.

– Atlanta’s first half success was a mirage based on out-of-this-world goaltending by Ondrej Pavalec and a sky-high PP. Pavalec still boasts the second best ES SV% in the league (.942!!), but unless he’s the next Dominic Hasek, there’s no way that sustains over time. The Thrashers PP has already begun to deflate after being one of the top three units in the league for a few months. They currently rank 11th in the league, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them fall a bit further before things are all said and done. After all, their highest scoring forward is Andrew Ladd with 16 goals adn 39 points.

– The reason Pavelec’s SV% is so key is because the Thrashers spend a ton of time in their own zone at ES. They have one of the worst possession rates as a whole in the league and they give up the most shots against (34.4) in the NHL. Only two of their regular skaters are above water in terms of corsi so far: Bergfors and Byfuglien.

– Although I don’t think Bug Buff is a legit Norris contender owing to some soft circumstances, but he is certainly something of a revelation nonetheless. His 221 shots on net lead the league by a wide margin from the back-end and is even well above Jarome Iginla’s 186, which leads the Flames. He plays an odd "rover", hybrid style from the back-end, at times switching between forward and defender duties. His numbers are bit inflated thanks to some percentages, but there’s no question he’s become one of the more dangerous weapons from the back-end.

– Joining Byfuglien in that regard is his partner, the diminutive Tobias Enstrom. A former 8th round pick who was considered a long-shot due to his 180 pound frame, Enstrom has been a capable offensive defensemen since breaking into the league and even managed 50 points on a woeful ATL club last year. He and Byfuglien currently co-lead the Thrashers in points with 41 each. He might be one of the most underrated blueliners in the NHL.

– Another ATL defender of interest is former 3rd overall pick Zach Bogosian. Billed as an offensive weapon coming out of junior, Bogo has nonetheless been deployed mostly as a shut-down option the last couple of seasons. His circumstances this year are brutal: he and Johnny Oduya frequently face the big boys and start out in their own end about 60% of the time. The burying of Bogosian and Oduya has allowed Ramasy to give Enstrom and Buff the high ground, but it’s also sunk the kids stock in the organizations eyes a bit. He’s been a healthy scratch more than once so far, despite the fact he’s 20-years old and doing some really heavy lifting. If I was in Feaster’s chair, I’d be making serious inquiries about the kid from the Flames end. The Thrash will be looking to press for a post-season berth this year and may be willing to dangle Bogosian as piece to shore up their offensive depth. Any defender who made the show as a teen and has been playing the heavies before his 21st birthday is worth a phone call or two.

– Up front, Niclas Bergfors has put up really impressive underlying numbers considering his surroundings. His +3/60 corsi rate leads the team and, unlike Byfuglien, Bergfors doesn’t start out more often in the offensive end (46.9% zone start).  His 10 goals and 27 points might not make your eyes pop out, but ending up above water on that club at 23 years old without significant sheltering is an impressive feat. Im guessing the Devils could really use him right now.

– In summary, the Thrashers give up a lot at ES and if the Flames can beat Pavalec, there’s a good chance for victory. Calgary hasn’t won in Atlanta since the Thrashers joined the league (seriously) and they’re heading there tonight on the back of a five game winning streak. One way or the other, something’s gotta give.

    • To be fair, it was mostly my fault. I clicked on the wrong tab and killed it myself. The only reason I can point a finger at this platform is there’s no auto-save feature.

      And, yeah, Staios is playing forward tonight. Hagman’s down and Bouma can’t make it to ATL in time.

  • Robert Cleave

    Enstrom being on the shelf with a busted digit
    is good news for Calgary. He’s pretty solid, and he’s certainly made Byfuglien’s life a lot easier this year.

    Byfuglien is a very entertaining player to watch, and he does seem to keep both teams in the game on a lot of nights. The revelation to me is that he’s a much better skater than I would have guessed watching him in Chicago, and when he gets a head of steam, he’s a handful on the rush. Andrew Ladd’s still the best player they got out that whole Chicago meltdown, though. I suspect the Hawks regret losing him more than any other player they moved.

    • I would have to disagree on Big Buff.

      Went to the Avalanche/Thrashers game here in Denver back in November, and he has got to be one of the slowest, laziest skaters out there. He coasts around on the back end, pinches somewhat, then has a hard time getting back on D when the puck comes back up the ice. If he’s a handful on the rush, it’s because he is out of position and trying to play that hybrid forward moreso.

      Buff has been lucky to have Enstrom at his side to cover up for his mistakes.

      • Robert Cleave

        I’ve watched about 25 Thrashers games this year, and I see the occasional cheating for offense, which I suppose could be considered as “lazy”, but he’s headed north, he’s just about unstoppable. Also, I specifically watched the game you went to, and Colorado didn’t have an answer for him in the third period, either on the cycle or the rush. I have a suspicion that people look at him in the same manner as Dustin Penner, which is that they think he’s slow and lazy because he’s huge and isn’t pumping his legs a billion miles an hour. If he gets the puck on the rush tonight, we’ll see how easy it is to stop him.

  • everton fc


    I’m sure this wouldnt happen because I dont think he really is available but would you trade Regher for Bagosian? Obviously Atlanta is looking for a defensive defenseman who can start more in the defensive zone. They have the cap room too and really could use his leadership I dont doubt.

  • everton fc

    Would anyone move Glencross, Babchuk or Pardy (or Sarich?), and parts for Bagosian? I don’t think this kid’s proven he is of equal value to Regehr. To me, that’s madness….

  • everton fc

    How about Glencross, Pardy or Babchuk… and “parts” for Bagosian? Regehr and Glencross for a 20 year old d-man who has yet to prove his status… ???

  • everton fc

    Staios upfront shouldn’t be much of an issue. His total icetime will amount to three well protected minutes. The Trash appear to be the clearcut winners on the Kovie deal.Big Buff for the Norris, ha, reminds one of the pr spin of a couple of years ago. Dion for the Norris.

  • everton fc

    Sorry to be the guy that doesn’t comment on the game itself, but:

    Glencross for Bergfors anyone? Both expiring contracts, Thrashers unhappy with Bergfors’ consistency. Glencross a likely depth target for a number of teams looking to make a playoff push. From a Flames perspective, its an upgrade on skill, without having to deal long-term assets. Neither player is expected to re-sign with his current team, at least at this stage. Glencross would likely get a shot at top-6 minutes, something he strongly feels he deserves – whereas Bergfors may be a more productive 2nd line option alongside Bourque and Jokinen/Backlund.

    One significant roadblock may be convincing the Thrashers to deal an RFA (potential for offer sheet compensation) for a UFA (no guarantees on long term future, or assets in return). Strictly, from the standpoint of offensive production and age, the deal isn’t totally unrealistic… Agree or disagree?

    • everton fc

      …BERGFORS is around 5 years younger, putting up comparable numbers, and has a higher ceiling than GLENCROSS.

      …BOTTOM LINE is the deal doesn’t make sense to me.

      • otto

        And Regehr for Bogosian sounds viable to you? Sounds like a total pipedream from a Flames standpoint. You’re telling me Atlanta wouldn’t trade Bergfors for Glencross at 5 years difference and comparable stats, but instead would look to get 10 years older on defense, and deal away Bogosian – their 3rd overall pick – for a declining shutdown d man in Robyn Regehr? While you mention “higher ceiling” players, who could have a higher ceiling than Zach Bogosian?

        Something doesn’t click there for me… Not to mention Regehr has a no-trade, and of all the top-caliber teams he could waive to play for, I don’t imagine the Atlanta Thrashers would be top of the list.

        I love Bogosian, but if you’re telling me they would be stupid to deal Bergfors away to get a little older, I’m having a tough time with the “Bogosian for Regehr” discussion.

        • Vintage Flame

          “Something doesn’t click there for me… Not to mention Regehr has a no-trade, and of all the top-caliber teams he could waive to play for, I don’t imagine the Atlanta Thrashers would be top of the list.

          I love Bogosian, but if you’re telling me they would be stupid to deal Bergfors away to get a little older, I’m having a tough time with the “Bogosian for Regehr” discussion.”

          Yeah, I don’t think Reggie would waive his no-trade to go to Atlanta either. That just doesn’t seem logical to me. It would have to be a contending team.

          • Vintage Flame

            Bogo for Rags straight up. never happen, a lot of folks in over estimated Rags worth.Aging, wounded,limited dman that plays a shutdown role because that is his limits for a stud. Please, i got ocean front proprty in Moose Jaw for sale.

  • i can’t believe we didn’t know Ladd was gonna be a big deal when he played for the hiitmen. then last summer…OMG. we picked up olli instead. man the more i think of how badly Sutter F*#$%^d up this team the worse it gets. this is not a contender why are trying to make the play offs and get a middle of the road pick to continue the mediocrity(or how ever u spell it) i think think kings gotta go. he drank daryls kool aid. he should have known better.

  • And another thing… do I not recall “someone” saying they’d play Staios as a 4th (or 5th) line winger prior to this season’s start? I mean, at least when posed that option VS being used as a 6th d-man. Obviously, he shouldn’t have been here at all, but at least up front he should be limited to 6-8 min.

    • otto

      Personally 6 to 8 minutes is twice what I would allow, and yep bad deal all the way around. Leadership shouldn’t be passed on age, it doesn’t always work, unless electing a pope to replace the pope who replaced the other pope who died of old age.

  • This used to happen to me in WordPress all the time before it had auto-save and versioning.

    Ever consider writing the long posts in Google Docs which has auto save, then just copying them over and inserting the images?