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Thrashers At Oilers: New Arrivals Blake Wheeler And Mark Start Set To Make Debut

The Thrashers were hoping that the All-Star break would be a time of R&R to refresh the team's engine and get back on the right track. Since the break, the team is 1-5-1, with the only win coming over the New York Rangers on February 11th. It has been a frustrating time for the team, seeing their playoff position disappear and the odds that they'll make the post-season dwindle. The play, especially on the 13th against the Carolina Hurricanes and Thursday night against the Phoenix Coyotes, has been improving despite injuries to forwards Fredrik Modin and Alexander Burmistrov. Unfortunately, the goaltending is getting tired - Pavelec has started or played in every game for nearly two months straight, and the strain is getting to him. He is 0-3-1 with a 4.67 GAA in his last four starts, a long ways away from his play at the start of the season. Andrew Ladd (three goals in three games) and Tobias Enstrom (three assists since returning) have been giving the Thrashers a boost in play, but they needed more.

Enter Blake Wheeler and Colin Stuart from the Boston Bruins. They were acquired yesterday for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik, and will be making their premieres today. No word yet on line combinations or who the defensive scratch will be this afternoon, but chances are good it's one of Oduya or Sopel. Sopel might benefit from a day's rest, and Odyua's play hasn't been as solid as it's needed to be recently. 

The Oilers have won two games in a row, most recently beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Thursday night. The Thrashers, unfortunately, are finding themselves in a familiar February position, just one game over .500 after a horrible stretch.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.