Tonight's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning should be a fun affair, as it always is when Martin St. Louis comes to town. Marty already has one assist against the Thrashers so far this season, which is a slow start for him. Last year he finished with four goals and six assists in six games against Atlanta. If Craig Ramsay has a gameplan tonight, it should consist of keeping the puck away from St. Louis, making Vincent Lacavalier tired, and figuring out how to block Steven Stamkos' booming shot from the point. The rest should be cake.
Somehow the Lightning have managed to be 4-1-1 thus far on the season, which is good for first in the Southeast. Coach Guy Boucher's system is confusing the opposition, who apparently can't manage to defend against it. Their offense is making up for their defensive system, and both are more than making up for their less than amazing goaltending. Dan Ellis was in net last night for their 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Islanders. So far he has a 3.99 GAA and a .878 SV% through three games. Also having played in three games, Mike Smith is the stronger of the two, with three wins, but a .869 SV% and a 3.41 GAA. Neither goaltender is carrying the team, and both can be beaten. It's a matter of if the Thrashers can score or not.
With Nigel Dawes' being put on waivers, Dan Kamal assumes that Eric Boulton will be in the line-up for the first time tonight against the Thrashers, with Niclas Bergfors being yet another healthy scratch. The AJC's Chris Vivlamore confirms this with today's practice line-up for the forwards:
The fourth line's been shaken up a bit, with Eager moved to skate with Antropov and Peverley. Looking at these lines, the absence of a sniper is more obvious than ever, which is why many fans are bemoaning the sitting of Niclas Bergfors. Considering that Antropov is still playing minimal ice-time due to his injured hip, moving Rich Peverley to center and placing Bergfors on the wing would not be an issue. Why has Bergfors not gotten playing time much recently?
"We took him out, put him back in. Right now we wanted a little spark and I thought Bolts (Eric Boulton) might just come in there with some enthusiasm and bang around a little bit. He’s a likeable player for the fans to watch. We are just looking for something. Nic just has to practice hard, work hard and when he gets his chance be ready."
Starting goaltenders will be Chris Mason for the Thrashers and, since Dan Ellis started last night, Mike Smith for the Bolts.