It’s difficult to write a recap on games like tonight’s. A great team effort, key plays from key players, so many shots on goal, and yet the box score tells you that your team has dropped two points to the team that is its closest competitor for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Nothing more could have gone right for the Thrashers. The penalty kill finished off a four minute high-sticking call on Andrew Ladd. The team allowed just seventeen shots on goal, but still managed to allow a goal for each period of play. They themselves fired forty three shots on Carolina goaltender Cam Ward, only to see him turn aside forty one of them. The captain, Andrew Ladd, scored twice on outstanding goals – the first a beautiful breakaway. Tobias Enstrom, Brent Sopel, and Dustin Byfuglien saved sure-fire trickle in goals. All of this, and a couple of quick shots from the point – shots that your goaltender would have been hard pressed to stop – decide the game.
Perhaps games like tonight, and a few of the more recent losses, wouldn’t be so difficult to take had the Thrashers not had such an atrocious stretch of games for January and February. They’re playing better, despite missing many key players. The losses aren’t on the kids that’ve been called up, nor are they on plug-ins like Tim Stapleton. They’re on an inability to get little things, like face-offs, done correctly. They’re on an inability to convert those hard fought shots into goals. And, right now, there’re on an inability to find someone to at least address either one of those problems.