If the season ended today, by virtue of having games in hand on the Atlanta Thrashers, the Carolina Hurricanes’d be in the Stanley Cup playoffs and the Thrashers would miss them for the tenth time in eleven seasons. A rough overtime game in which the Thrashers battled back to tie it twice in the third period ended 4-3 and with a tie for 58 points between the two teams. The Thrashers’ atrocious January and seemingly as bad of February finally culminated in them falling into ninth place. There’s time for the Thrashers to get going and get back into the thick of things again, but with the way that they’ve been playing for a month, how can they shake it? Once a team starts being unable to capitalize on wide open scoring chances (Atlanta had five or six good looks tonight) and everyone on the team is neutralized, how do you break that? Even players that haven’t scored much this year have tried to help (Brent Sopel and Zach Bogosian, tonight) but that hasn’t been enough.
The three goals in the third period and overtime tonight were all easily stoppable goals that Ondrej Pavelec could have had, but he’s the last person to blame for the situation that the Thrashers find themselves in. Frankly, no one person is to blame. This is almost entirely, collectively, a team effort.
Roughly, though, the fact that Tobias Enstrom is still out has neutralized the power play, and Jim Slater missing time with concussions has forced some line combinations that are completely flat. Until Toby comes back, and until the Greek Gods line is reunited to supply stability and punch, the Thrashers are going to continue their slide. Either a trade needs to be made, or they need to wrap Slater in bubble wrap, or both, but the season doesn’t have enough time left to continue this slip.