The 5-2 loss Tuesday night in Ottawa had one bright spot: the two goals scored by Andrew Ladd and Anthony Stewart were both power play tallies. Atlanta now has 18 power play goals on the season, which has them clipping along at 26.1%, 3rd best in the league. Unfortunately, the penalty kill is an anemic 75.5% effective, which is 27th in the league. While discipline has improved markedly for the Thrashers, whatever team that they play against will do well to goad them into taking penalties. Tonight the team doing the goading is the generally low scoring and defensively minded Minnesota Wild, who are humming along at an 86.4% effectiveness rate to their PK. If they can do that down a man, imagine how few goals they allow when at full strength.
The Wild only allow 2.15 goals a game. The Thrashers absolutely have to score three or four in a game to have at least a decent shot in winning (which is why their GA/G average is at 3.00 exactly), so this should be a challenge for the Thrashers. The Wild average 2.46 goals scored a game, which if that trend continues would be a welcome break for Atlanta, who have only allowed less than three goals twice all season.
Tonight's game shouldn't be a high scoring (or exciting) affair and will probably be poor competition for the Falcons game happening around the corner. Atlanta needs to focus on adapting to the Wild's trap style of play and also needs to work on limiting give-aways. Regardless of how little your opponent shoots, they'll do it more often if you give them the puck.
Ondrej Pavelec and Pekka Rinne will be the starting goalies for tonight. Also, again a reminder - the Falcons kick off at 8:20 around the corner in the Dome, so leave early and accordingly. Traffic will be a nightmare. Grab a few extra dollars for parking, as folks going to Falcons games also park in the Gulch/lower level of the CNN deck, and I would not be shocked if the parking companies down there take advantage of that. Leave early and plan accordingly.
Oh, and it's $3 beer night in Headlines at Philips.