The Thrashers end yet another back to back set this season with tonight's game against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Thrashers have four back to back sets in December alone, and had four in October (all consecutive Friday and Saturday games) and two in November. They'll see just one in January, none in February, two in March, and one in April. The first half of the season's the most grueling for the team, and if they can finish December in a playoff position, chances are good that they can finish April that way too. So far the team is 17-11-4 and in 7th place in the East, so things are looking up.
The team that they're playing tonight is on the outside looking in. The Carolina Hurricanes recovered from a disastrous start at the beginning of last season, and are continuing to play better hockey as of late. They're in 9th in the East with a 13-12-8 record, and the recent acquisitions that the team from the Calgary Flames (Ian White and Brett Sutter for Anton Babchuk and Tom Kostopolous) and Anaheim Ducks (Ryan Carter in exchange for prospects Stefan Chaput and Matt Kennedy) seem to be helping the team.
The issue with the Canes recently has been some untraditionally shaky goaltending from starter and former Conn Smythe award winner Cam Ward. Ward allowed two goals in the first two minutes of last night's game against the Florida Panthers (which the Hurricanes still managed to win, 4-3) and was pulled. In his wins, Ward is brilliant, but in his losses he seems to lose his focus.
|2010 - Cam Ward||25||1408||12||9||61||2.60||792||731||.923||1|
Ondrej Pavelec was solid last night save for his flub on the lone regulation Lightning goal:
That's a forgivable flub the way that Pavelec has been playing recently; why not give him the start again tonight?
|2010 - Ondrej Pavelec||21||1166||10||6||35||1.80||617||582||.943||2|
Line-ups for tonight have not been released, so it's unclear if Fredrik Modin and Tim Stapleton will still be in the line-up for Atlanta, or if Ben Eager and Niclas Bergfors will make it back in. The team has been relatively spark-free without the duo, and last night's listless play showed that the best out of all of the games that they've missed. Bergfors would be useful on the powerplay, which went 0-for-5 last night.
Puck drop is at 7:00 at Philips Arena. Two notable promotions tonight - the team is serving $1 hot dogs, soda, and pretzels from 6:00 to puck drop at the remaining December home games. Also, it's a Thirsty Thursday, which means $3 Budweiser products in Headlines Bar & Grill.
Thrash is still behind bars though, so it'll be up to the crowd alone to get the team going.