Playing the New York Islanders is always a lesson in humility for the Thrashers. In their first meeting this year, the Thrashers had to defeat the Islanders in overtime on November 21st, the game after they handily stomped the Detroit Red Wings 5-1. Points against teams like the Isles, who have won one game in the past 18, have beaten the Thrashers the last two times that Atlanta has wandered into Nassau. Both goaltenders in New York have good records against the Thrashers, with tonight's starter Rick DiPietro is 6-3-2-1 all time against Atlanta, with a 2.45 GAA. Unfortunately for him, he has a 4.00 GAA his last eight starts. Over-all, the former first rounder and 15-year contract signer has not had a good season, though that could be chalked up more to the team than to the goalie:
|2010 - Rick DiPietro
Chris Mason is getting his first start since November, and his stats aren't much better - though there's a chance they'll get better thanks to the fact that the Thrashers are limiting shots on goal, especially the quality ones:
|2010 - Chris Mason
Mason's excited to be getting the start tonight, though he understands why Pavelec's been firmly plunked in goal for the past month. From the AJC:
"I’m excited," Mason said. "Obviously when the team is playing well and you are winning hockey games, you want to get back in there and play. The way Pavs is playing, there is no way you can take him out of the net. We are here to win and when you’ve got a guy playing like that, you’ve got to play him. I’ve been in the situation on both sides of it before. It’s been really fun watching, but at the same time you want to be in there and help the team out."
Mason was pulled in his previous two starts after allowing four goals each against Ottawa on Nov. 9 and Washington on Nov. 14. The veteran goaltender insists that’s ancient history. "It’s so long ago, it’s not in my mind anymore," Mason said. "That’s the one thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older. Those experiences, you have to let go. If you keep thinking about it, it will eat you up. To be honest, I haven’t thought about that in the day or two after. I’ve been more focused on game situations in practice, keeping my conditioning level up, things like that. I just want to be ready when I do get back in there. You can’t afford to get back in there and be average. I want to play well and do everything I can to make that happen."
The 1100 Quebecois who are making the road trip today so they can convince Gary Bettman that they should have a team of their own (or of Atlanta fans' own) aren't going to be treated to an epic goalie duel, but they might well be treated to an epic Atlanta win.