Very little went right past the second line during the Thrashers' loss last night. The line of Nigel Dawes-Bryan Little-Fredrik Pettersson was outstanding, with both Little and Pettersson scoring the only two goals on the evening. Evander Kane also looked great with a team leading eight hits. Honestly, very little can be assessed during the first NHL pre-season game from the forwards. They haven't been practicing power play schematics during camp (yet still converted on one last night), and the lack of communication was very apparent last night. They didn't pressure and didn't break out of their own zone very often, which lead to scoring chances for the Blue Jackets' line-up of mostly rookies.
Burmistrov looked good, though he did commit several turn-overs that should not have happened. Defensively, five of the six players out there are competing for the seventh defenseman slot, but it looked like Ron Hainsey wants it too. Hainsey was very unobservant and finished the evening at a -2 (as did Boris Valabik, Jamie Sifers, and Andrey Zubarev). One of the goals was directly his own fault as he was screening Ondrej Pavelec badly when Jonathan Sigalet scored. Twenty eight seconds later, Mike Blunden tipped in a shot past Pavelec, who was set for the original shot but not the redirection.
Valabik looked tentative, which is how he began the pre-season last year as well. It apparently takes him a little while to get going, which is understandable, but right now Artus Kulda and Andrey Zubarev should have their names above his on the depth chart. Zubabrev had some outstanding shifts with a good awareness of the play and placement of the puck. Kulda proved again why last year's call-up of Chris Chelios was a mistake. There's no legitimate way that you can justify sending him to the AHL again this season. The seventh-rounder looked outstanding and will stick around until the last second of cuts.
Pavelec did not have a good evening. Goalies take a while to get warmed up which is understandable, and apparently coach Craig Ramsay wanted to see how long it would take Pavelec to actually get into the groove of the game, leaving him in the entire game and keeping Drew MacIntyre on the bench. The first two goals of the game can be written off, but the last three cannot. Pavs absolutely needs to get focused quickly to start the season out, both for the team's sake and for his own. Many performances like last night's and Chris Mason'll stay as a starter. Lack of communication and confusion is a legit excuse for the skaters, but it isn't for the goalie. Rebound control needs to be worked on, as does some basic awareness of where the puck is. Pavelec lost the puck and let it sit in the blue paint while he looked around for it for what seemed like eternity until Spencer Machacek noticed it and swatted it away. In a regular season game, that's a goal.
The Thrashers' next pre-season game is this Saturday at 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Expect to see Mason in goal.