Metro Atlanta's shaking off being shut down for the week, and this weekend looks a bit packed for a city that has been fighting cabin fever for a while. What better way to start the weekend off than with a hockey game? The weather's still wintry, there's still ice on a few roads (and apparently highways, amazingly enough), but it's time for the Thrashers to end their winter hibernation and get back on track.
They've been having an unpleasant go of it the past ten games, going 3-5-2 in that stretch and watching their penalty kill fall to 28th in the league - mostly on the non-strength of last Friday's 9-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, which saw the Leafs score five powerplay goals, four on the match penalty to Ben Eager. Eager's out for the next three games, including tonight, due to suspension for a glove-on punch to the face of Leafs winger Colby Armstrong.
Also questionable for tonight are Thrashers forwards Evander Kane and Freddy Modin. It's Kane's call when to come back, but don't expect to see Modin in tonight. Also out still is center Jim Slater, who according to Chris Vivlamore of the AJC has started taking practice in a non-contact jersey, but still needs to be evaluated further due to his concussion.
The Flyers' star defenseman, Chris Pronger, is back tonight. Without Kane in the line-up to skate circles around him, the Thrashers might have a problem. Also a player to watch for the Flyers is Daniel Briere. The recent All-Star snub has had an outstanding season, scoring twenty three goals and adding sixteen assists onto that. He's the only player with more than twenty goals who didn't get the call for the game.
Atlanta's own all-star defensemen, Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom, have continued their outstanding play. Enstrom especially has been excellent as of late, adding two assists in Sunday's overtime loss to his point totals. He has a goal and six assists in the past four games. If you're wondering how well he's been playing, he was a +1 in Friday's blowout.
Puck drop is at 7:30 tonight, and as always, mind the roads. The temperatures are supposed to drop again tonight after sunset and there's a persistent patch of ice at Northside Drive and 75 north that just won't seem to melt.