Atlanta Thrashers Vs. Tampa Bay Lightning - The Fourth Line Surprises, But The Thrashers Fall

The second half of the back to back isn't in the Thrashers favor, as they lose 5-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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Thrashers Fall 5-3 To Tampa Bay Lightning

Steven Stamkos was trying for a hat trick all night, and he very nearly got it. The Thrashers, in the second game of a back-to-back, dropped the game 5-3 to the Bolts. The offense never seemed to click and the team generally seemed tired. Endurance is going to be an issue for the Thrashers’ west coast road trip, with a back-to-back against the Ducks and Sharks scheduled for next weekend as well.

Shots were 36-30 in favor of Tampa Bay. Allowing thirty-six shots in a game is part of the reason that the team fell this evening. The defense needs to look at on-ice placement to better limit shots and quality scoring chances both.

The fourth line of Eager-Burmistrov-Thorburn contributed two goals on the evening and finished a +2, which was the highlight of the team’s play. Again, this reinforces coach Craig Ramsay’s “all lines must contribute” mentality. Attitude like that from the 4th line is contagious. It was apparent Friday night, and hopefully will follow the team to California.

The Thrashers’ next game is Tuesday against the LA Kings at 10:30.

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Thrashers To Face Mike Smith In Goal

Looks like Dan Ellis has a problem – he’s not starting the home opener for the Lightning tonight. The Thrashers will be facing off against Mike Smith tonight in net.

Smith was 1-1 against the Thrashers last season, with a 4.50 GAA and a .836 SV%.

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Ondrej Pavelec News: Thrashers Recall Chicago Wolves Goaltender Drew MacIntyre

The Thrashers brought up the Chicago Wolves starting goaltender Drew MacIntyre to fill in for Ondrej Pavelec for the time being. MacIntyre will more than likely accompany the Thrashers on their upcoming west coast road trip next week, seeing as how Pavelec has a concussion and the conclusion on the original cause of his passing out has not been reached.

Chris Mason will more than likely be starting every game until Pavelec returns to play. MacIntyre has not been given the chance to play much at the NHL level, but his AHL stats are solid. He has a 111-67-10 record in the AHL. Last season he finished with a 2.54 GAA and a .917 save percentage.

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Video: Pavelec's First Period Collapse


As you can see, it's pretty serious.  He falls down and simply does not get back up.  Still no word on his condition as of yet.  (Thanks are owed to Mike Prada at SBN DC for finding the video for us).

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Line Combinations Released For Tonight's Atlanta Thrashers Opener

The line combinations are out for tonight’s opener against Washington. As it stands, it looks like this:

Andrew LaddBryan Little – Niclas Bergfors
Freddy Modin – Nik AntropovNigel Dawes
Evander KaneRich PeverleyAnthony Stewart
Ben Eager – Alex Burmistrov – Chris Thorburn

Johnny OduyaZach Bogosian
Dustin ByfuglienTobias Enstrom
Brent SopelRon Hainsey

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason

Sopel and Hainsey were the weakest defensive pairing during the pre-season; I would not bank on huge amounts of ice time for them. I am very much excited to see the forwards lines going out there with a mix of scoring and punch. Stewart should be able to protect the puck for Peverley, and with Kane’s added weight the third line should be an exciting line to knock the Capitals around.

Ladd-Little-Bergfors sounds like chemistry in a bottle, with the playmaker Ladd able to set up both Little and Bergfors; Bergfors’ speed will be a huge asset.

Burmistrov centering the fourth line looks more like a case of “where else?” than “checking line center.” He’s been putting on weight and isn’t as easily knocked off the puck, but he does look out of place between Thorburn and Eager.

If for some reason the gloves are dropped tonight, look for recent acquisition DJ King of the Capitals to drop them against his old Central Division buddy Ben Eager. Without Eric Boulton in the line-up tonight, the best fighter is Eager. Thorburn’s always ready to drop the gloves, but his tenacity’s seldom rewarded with a win. King’s one of the best fighters in the league, so it might be helpful to night incite him to swing any punches.

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Ondrej Pavelec To Start In Goal Tonight

The debate over who the Thrashers’ starting goalie truly is begins tonight, with Ondrej Pavelec beginning his second complete season with the team, Coach Craig Ramsay has given him the vote of confidence as the opening night starter, and the role of starter for the season is his to lose.

Chris Mason will take the role of mentor/reliable back-up, though again, as I’ve mentioned before, if Pavelec falters and Mason gets on a run, expect to see the older goalie in net for quite a few games in a row. Both goaltenders had a similar goals allowed during the pre-season, and both have strengths that the Thrashers can play on.

If Pavelec can manage a start to this season like he started last season, and if he can keep this up, the Thrashers could benefit from consistent spectacular goaltending for the first time in years. The trick, though, is maintaining Pavelec’s confidence and work ethic through the season and not letting him falter. Hopefully the presence of Mason will be a motivating factor.

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