It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... it was Saturday night's comeback and Tuesday night's implosion. There might be more similarities between Charles Dickens and Thrashers hockey than one thinks. The patron who jerks around the hero's heart (Atlanta Spirit), the tease of something unattainable (apparently the playoffs are our Estella), the constant comparison of ghosts of seasons past to the spirit of this season.
So many similarities, except that I hate Charles Dickens' novels. I do not hate Thrashers hockey. But watching it usually gives me the same gut wrenching reaction of disappointment and frustration, which is usually how I feel after reading Dickens.
Tuesday night's game against the Devils began as well as the game against the Flyers ended, but the team couldn't keep the momentum going. They fell prey to the usual trap - the "let's only play 20-30 minutes of a hockey game" strategy that they have perfected. First period was fantastic, as were the last five minutes of the third. The second period and first fifteen minutes of the third period, though? Absolutely atrocious. Coasting, bad passes, lack of effort - you name it, and the Thrashers managed it. They played similarly in Philly (though the "good hockey" was mostly confined to the last 20 minutes of the game), but were rewarded for it. I am assuming they thought that they'd at least get another overtime point against New Jersey - it would have been their fifth overtime game in a row.
Expectations probably don't need to be that great. Tonight's expectations should be more than tempered, as the Thrashers are 4-14-2-1 all time against the Flyers at Philips, which is not exactly the best winning percentage. Hopefully the $3 green beer up in Headlines Bar will contribute to a rowdy crowd. They play better in front of these - but I have a feeling that the Orange and Black might be drinking more green than Blueland.
Unless the Thrashers play like they did Tuesday, that is. Then I think the alcohol consumption will be decidedly in Blueland's favor.
Tonight's goalie match-up according to DailyFaceOff.com is Brian Boucher against Ondrej Pavelec. Pavs has an awful 4.21 GAA and .851 SV% this season against the Flyers. He was pulled after giving up three goals on twelve shots Saturday night. If the Thrashers want to close the gap to eighth place down to four points, they absolutely must win tonight - and it would be super helpful if the Devils and Maple Leafs could lose.