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Thrashers At Hurricanes: The Playoff Clock Is Ticking For Atlanta

The Thrashers haven't exactly had the best of luck against the Carolina Hurricanes, and that's not a good thing. Until just recently, the Canes were the team that the Thrashers had to focus on chasing to get back into the playoff picture, and their 0-1-3 record against them just isn't good enough. There are still two games and four points on the line, but by April those last two points might not mean anything if they don't get the two points tonight.

Former Hurricane Andrew Ladd is hell-bound and determined to get his team into the playoffs, and with his leadership (eight of the last nineteen goals are his), the rest of the team is starting to wake up. Also helpful recently has been the play of Dustin Byfuglien, who had the primary assist in three of the Thrashers' four goals Saturday night against the Florida Panthers. Unfortunately, he won't be playing tonight. He has an undisclosed injury and didn't make the trip, so Paul Postma has been recalled. Expect to see, at least for tonight, Zach Bogosian paired with Tobias Enstrom, and prepare to see Bogosian out there a lot on the power play.

Another reason for the team's improved play of late has been a solid penalty kill. The trade deadline acquisitions of Mark Stuart and Radek Dvorak have shored up something that had descended into the pits of the league's statistics. It's still at 28th place (77.4%), but going on a 20 for 22 stretch has buoyed their chances.

Not coincidentally, Chris Mason has been outstanding. While Ondrej Pavelec was recovering from a wrist sprain, Mason saw action, allowing only ten goals in the team's five game homestand, and keeping the Thrashers in the game every night. By picking up the offense on Saturday, they were finally able to utilize Mason's play to win a game.

Despite Mason's strong play, Ondrej Pavelec will be back in net tonight against the 'Canes after sitting out five games. Ramsay is missing out on a chance to take advantage of Mason's streakiness - currently he's on a hot streak, and Pavelec's been more than cold recently. Despite his stats, Mason would be a better choice in net tonight.

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