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Thrashers At Bruins: Boston Can Clinch The Northeast Division With A Win Over Atlanta

This early-afternoon game might've taken a few people by surprise if you're not a schedule watcher. And, at this point in the season, the number of schedule watchers is dwindling down. Baseball's overtaken the attention of many Atlantans who are just looking for a break from the constant pattern of the Thrashers' seasons.

Thursday night's 43 save performance by Chris Mason in his 1-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers might not be enough to get him the start this afternoon. Craig Ramsay mentioned to Chris Vivlamore in an interview that he'd like to alternate goaltenders for the remainder of the season to get everyone in to play. Pavelec is more than likely in today, then. Pavs has played well against the Bruins this year, starting every previous match-up and going 2-1-0 with a 2.28 GAA and a .942 SV%.

This will be the first trip back to Boston for Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart since the trade that sent Rich Peverley to the Bruins. Peverley has two goals and two assists in eighteen games with the Bruins. Wheeler has five goals and eight assists in the same amount of time; where Peverley is still being used on Boston's third line, Wheeler's played himself onto Atlanta's top scoring line. Mark Stuart isn't an offensive juggernaut, scoring just once since the trade; he's made his impact felt in other ways. In his first game as a Thrasher, he stepped up to defend Evander Kane after a questionable Oilers hit, and hasn't stopped playing hard since. His almost immediate three-year contract extension that he signed after the trade endeared him to Thrashers fans, and his play is cementing the deal.

Atlanta has just five game remaining on the schedule, and sit seven points out of the final playoff spot, currently occupied by the New York Rangers. The only silver lining is that New York has played one more game than the Thrashers; that silver lining dissipates when you realize that Atlanta still has to play them once more. Sure, the seven points in five games is do-able, but is it realistic? Not when you couple it with the fact that if the Thrashers lose or the Sabres or Rangers win or lose in OT, the Thrashers are basically done.

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