The Thrashers' West Coast road trip begins tonight with the LA Kings' home opener at 10:30. The last time these two teams met it resulted in a 7-0 thumping of the Kings at Philips Arena.
LA's offense has been anemic thus far this season, scoring only three goals and averaging 27 shots a game, where the Thrashers have scored seven goals over the past two games with an average SOG of 30.5. The difference between the two teams is that the Thrashers allowed five goals in their loss to Tampa Bay Saturday night, and the most that the Kings have allowed have been three.
Solution? Keep trotting the fourth line out there. The Thrashers' shutdown line of Ben Eager-Alex Burmistrov-Chris Thorburn has been successful defensively as well as offensively. Thorburn has a goal and a +/- rating of a +3, Ben Eager has a goal and an assist and is a +2, and Alex Burmistrov, while pointless in two games, has a +3 rating. Coach Craig Ramsay expects all lines to be responsible as well as a scoring threat, and the fourth line emulates that theory perfectly.
Evander Kane is also someone that the Kings might want to look into defending. A lot. Kane's two goals in the home opener were outstanding displays of offensive skill mixed with tenacity. Kane has scored two out of the Thrashers' seven goals; the other five come from five other players. The threat is spread out. Tobias Enstrom scored Saturday night, hopefully breaking his "pass first, ask questions later" trend.
It's also the Kings' second Armenian Heritage night - they tend to schedule it when Zach Bogosian comes to town. Here're Zach's thoughts on the first one held in 2009:
It’s pretty special for the Kings to have Armenian Heritage Night while I’m playing there. My grandparents are Armenian and that part of my background is really important to me, because even though I’m not from there it’s always good to go back to your roots and understand where you came from. Plus it’s special to my family so it’s special to me. I’m pretty proud to be Armenian, and there are a lot of them out in LA, so my grandfather is really excited about it. I think there’s something like 2 million of them in the LA area, which is crazy since there are only about three million people that actually live in Armenia. As far as I know I’m the first Armenian player to play in the NHL, so there’s going to be a lot of them there rooting for me. That’s going to be pretty cool.
So being Armenian is really important to me. I have an Armenian cross tattoo on my back. It’s cool to me to be from such a small place- it makes you different. And even though Armenia is small, it’s a special country. It’s really old, and the Armenian people were the first ones to officially accept Christianity as their national religion.
As the other half of Atlanta's Armenian community (I kid... I hope), I'm always glad to see Bogosian be so proud of where he came from, and am thrilled to see the Kings honor their city's Armenian population. Hopefully my buddy and fellow Armenian Tepleg of Jerseys and Hockey Love will be able to make the game this year. If he does, I'll ask for his impressions of the night.
Stay tuned for game day rosters for both clubs, and a look at who is in net for the Kings.