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Thrashers At Rangers: Atlanta Can Spoil New York's Playoff Hopes

Are the Thrashers obligated to help the Carolina Hurricanes out? As Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy points out, they can do their Southeast Division rival a solid and give them a boost into the eighth playoff spot. If the Thrashers win tonight, and lose Friday night to the Canes, it would help knock Carolina up into at least a points tie with the Rangers. It'd also be the first time in history that three Southeast Division teams'd be in the playoffs at the same time, which assuredly would make someone's head implode at TSN.

About the only thing going for tonight's game, aside from playoff implications for teams that do not play in Atlanta, is that Dustin Byfuglien can break Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk's single season shot record of 341 tonight with just two shots on goal. He had six shots in Tuesday night's 6-3 defeat to the Nashville Predators. Buff has already set personal season highs for goals, assists, and points, and is currently tied with his best +/- rating of a -2.

Blake Wheeler, who netted two goals in Tuesday's game, is two goals away from 20 for the season and four goals away from breaking his previous personal high of 21.Tobias Enstrom and Radek Dvorak won't be able to add any more points tonight - they're both at home, not having accompanied the team on their road trip thanks to injury.

The penalty kill is finally deciding to perform, allowing only four goals on 30 chances over the past ten games. Of course, that kind of penalty killing would have been much appreciated earlier this year, when Atlanta was sliding down in the standings thanks to a non-existent PK and a horrible face-off percentage. Better late than never, I suppose.

The Thrashers haven't finished above .500 since the only time that they made the playoffs in 2006-2007. This season began with them poised to make the postseason again; it ends with them trying to keep their head above water. Someone might want to look very carefully at what caused this massive slide.

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