Hockey's a sport filled with streaks. Point streaks (Sidney Crosby's 25 game streak came to an end last night against the New York Islanders), winning streaks, and unfortunately losing streaks. Sometimes it's hard to break out of a funk, and the Thrashers are certainly in one. They're still in a playoff spot (seventh in the Eastern Conference), but have gone a very average 4-3-3 in their last ten, getting 11 out of 20 points possible.
A big part of that is just that the Thrashers are tired, plain and simple. It was obvious Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. They began the game dominating the Penguins for a period, didn't play as well during the second, and completely checked out of the game during the third. The team's played fourteen games so far this month and still has two to go. Nik Antropov's on the injured-reserve after re-tweaking the hip that he had surgery on in the off season. Zach Bogosian was recently out against the Tampa Bay Lightning with some banged-up parts, and the optional skate that the Thrashers had on Monday saw a few guys sit out to rest up. Throw playing talented teams like the Bruins, Lightning, and Penguins into the mix, and it's no wonder why they might be looking forward to some sort of sabbatical - not that they'll get it.
On top of just being tired, tonight's game is a rematch between two teams that didn't end the last game on the bestest of terms. Let's re-live the magic:
Ok, that went well. A 4-1 loss and a ticked off Thrashers team. No reason to expect the same tonight, right? Possibly so. The team's focus is on winning, as it should be. The top two goalies in the league are facing off again tonight. Ondrej Pavelec needs a chance to bounce back from allowing a season-high six goals on Tuesday night. He plays better at Philips Arena than away, where he is 8-4-2 with a minuscule 1.94 GAA and a pretty solid .934 SV%.
Unfortunately, he'll have to play Tim Thomas, who has more success than Tuuka Rask against the Thrashers. Timmah has a goals against average of 2.36 against the Thrashers and has won five straight against Atlanta. Thomas'll have to contend with Dustin Byfuglien, who apparently has decided that he likes scoring against the Bruins. He has two goals and three assists against the Bruins in just two games, one of which includes his excellent effort against Boston on November 28th, where he had a goal and three assists.
Antropov being on the IR leaves space for call-up Patrice Cormier to find his ice-legs with the Thrashers. Cormier played Tuesday but was largely impact-free, though his gritty style of play might come in handy tonight, as the Bruins will come out hitting hard. Tim Stapleton was also recalled, though it's unsure who the healthy scratches will be tonight.
There will be a wedding before the game tonight. Yes, you read that right - a couple of season ticket holders are getting hitched at the game. No word on if there will be a reception at the Buckead Grill afterwards, or if they're going more upscale and doing Chops in the club level.