The Thrashers are back after a three day break, taking on their Southeast Division rivals the Florida Panthers for the first time this season. The Panthers are in the midst of a re-build and re-tooling, and while not terrible they're not exactly lighting the lamp this year either. They're averaging 2.67 goals a game while allowing 2.33 a game, which is enough to win games - and yet have just four wins on the season. The Thrashers, however, scoring at a 4th in the league clip of 3.18 goals per game, yet are allowing 3.54 goals a game on average. Yet they sit one game above .500, and the Panthers are one below.
The Thrashers have been getting more than enough scoring, especially on the power play. The power play is on a team record-tying 8 game point streak, and scored twice in rapid-fire succession in St. Louis. Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom are responsible for a decent amount of this success, though forward Nik Antropov has been getting his ice-legs back taking face offs on the power play. The five-on-three advantage, though, is a bit shaky, with the Thrashers oddly unable to take advantage of it. Coach Craig Ramsay explains it this way:
5-on-3 you think you should score every time. When you don’t, it can make a big difference. … You have to be ready to take advantage of those. Some times you go out on a 5-on-3 and you are complacent because you have two extra guys. It’s like having a five-minute power play. You take it easy because you have lots of time. It shouldn’t work that way. You should be as desperate to start of 5-on-3 power play as you are at any time. If you are desperate, you should get a couple.
Chris Mason will be getting the start tonight, to give Pavelec a chance to start at home on Thursday night. Pavelec's only home start came on opening night, where he passed out two and a half minutes into the game. This might seem odd, considering Pavelec has more familiarity with the Panthers than Mason. Mason played one game against Florida last season as a member of the St. Louis Blues, winding up with a 3.05 GAA and a .885 SV% in the loss. Last season, though, Pavelec did not get a single start against the Panthers, and got the start against Columbus, where he didn't fare too well (4.10 GAA and a .810 SV%).
The Thrashers have placed defenseman Freddy Meyer on injured reserve retroactive to October 23rd, which is when he was injured in a game against the Washington Capitals. Neither he, nor forward Bryan Little, will be making the trip to Florida with the team. Little was injured Friday night against Buffalo and sustained a mild concussion and facial lacerations. The Thrashers have recalled Noah Welch to act as the team's 7th defenseman, and will be playing forward Freddy Modin again to replace Little.
The game will be televised on FoxSports South (HD) and will be broadcast on 680 the Fan at 7:30.