Tonight is the true test of the Thrashers' mettle, as they meet up with the other hot ticket right now - the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens have an unbelievable record right now, and a decent amount of that lays solely on the back of starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
|2010 - Marc-Andre Fleury||17||971||9||6||40||2.47||437||397||.908||1|
What's so special about Flower, you might ask? His stats are pedestrian, and he only has nine wins on the season. Well, yes, he started the season with an atrocious 3.55 GAA after his first seven games, and a .853 SV% that put him at the bottom of the league. He was benched in favor of then red-hot starter Brent Johnson, who still has a respectable .931 SV% and 2.00 GAA. Fleury came back with a win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on November 12th, and hasn't looked back since. Fleury is 8-0-1 since then with a 1.70 GAA and a save percentage of around .950. In fact, the only goalie in the league as hot as he is would be the Thrashers' very own Ondrej Pavelec:
|2010 - Ondrej Pavelec||15||800||7||4||22||1.65||425||403||.948||2|
It could be said that the two goalies are why their teams own the longest and second-longest streaks respectively. While not entirely true (Sidney Crosby's torrid point pace and Dustin Byfuglien's offense could also be given credit), the goaltenders' performances are probably why tonight you shouldn't expect a goal-fest. The Thrashers have some motivation on their side, since a seven game win streak would be the best in franchise history. The Penguins have a way to go, since their longest winning streak is an NHL-record 17 games set in 1993.
Evander Kane was injured Tuesday night in Colorado by taking a Tobias Enstrom slapshot off of the knee. While he did skate this morning, it is doubtful he will play this evening. Fredrik Modin is still out with bruised ribs, so defenseman Freddy Meyer will be up, possibly as a forward. Meyer has not played since the Thrashers' 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals on October 23rd. Kane has been one of the team's top shooters, and after Dustin Byfuglien is second on the team with nine goals.
The Penguins hold a lopsided edge against the Thrashers in the teams' all-time series, going 29-8-0-3 against them. The argument can be made though that these aren't the Thrashers that they're used to playing against - these might not even be the same Thrashers that the Penguins defeated 4-2 the last time these two teams met on November 13th.