Each year, it is a tradition in our country to spend some time reflecting on our accomplishments and failures. The New Year's holiday is celebrated with great optimism and joy. It allows us to look forward, beginning anew or starting all over.
It allows us to focus on the positive projections of the future. The Atlanta Thrashers like many other hockey clubs are looking to improve on their first-half performance as they look forward to making the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Of course, the Thrashers have been a much more competitive squad this year with The Russian Express line of Ilya Kovalchuk, Maxim Afinogenov and Nik Antropov. They have excited home fans and provided a competitve team that's more fun to watch and capable of beating the top echelon teams on any given night .
Let's look at some of the Thrashers possible New Year's resolutions.
The Thrashers have won some close games and have looked very much like a playoff team on some nights, but have fallen short in others. Consistency is the major issue facing the Thrashers this season.
The media have taken note that the Thrashers seem to have a hard time playing well for an entire 60 minutes. The powerplay and penalty killing units, which were very effective at the beginning of the season, have cooled off considerably.
If the Thrashers are destined to make the playoffs, more consistency has to be at the top of their resolutions list for 2010.
Just like in any household, following a budget can be difficult. On the business side of things, the Thrashers have to be cognizant of how much they can spend on their players based on attendance, expenses and other factors.
This could represent a dilemma in negotiating Kovalchuk's new deal. Ultimately, it will be a test of the abilities of head coach John Anderson and general manager Don Waddell to stay within the budget and put a competitive young team on the ice.
Hard work is the key to winning consistently. Millions of people each year seek to work harder because it is a formula for success. The Thrashers need tenacious performances from their role players.
Todd White, Colby Armstrong and Slava Kozlov all must dig deep to produce the kind of effort that will transmogrify the Thrashers into a perenial playoff team.
Plus/minus ratings show a critical need for Thrasher players to work harder in the defensive zone. Pavel Kubina is one of the NHL leaders in that category.
Prospects like Angelo Esposito must be monitored carefully to view long-term viability and potential.
Teams can build themselves into a legitimate playoff participant by keeping a flow of young players in the lineup. Esposito, despite injuries, will likely play with the Thrashers on a full-time basis next season.
Besides Eric Boulton, there are not many Thrashers who will readily drop their gloves to make a point after a illegal check or a hard hit.
Even in a NHL that has tried to cut down on fighting and curb violence, it is still necessary to protect every inch of ice. The Thrashers could well use a few more players who were adamant about keeping the opposition honest.
The two kids on the team, Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian, are not yet 20-years-old, but they are the Thrashers future.
Both have tremendous upside. They like to win and have leadership ability. Coach Anderson must stay close to them and monitor their development to see the results many forecast.
The Thrashers have a few players they might be able to trade to strengthen other areas. The Thrashers do have three goaltenders and could deal one.
Lehtonen, Pavelec and Hedberg mean that one will likely be traded to another team to hopefully shore up another area.
Since Kovalchuk's contract negotiations cannot be overlooked, it is still important for the Thrashers to either sign him or trade him while getting value.
The Thrashers have already experienced fire-sale mode when they dealt away Marian Hossa and recieved Colby Armstrong and Angelo Esposito.
No team wants to repeat the outcome of the Florida Panthers negotiation with defenseman Jay Boumeister, which resulted in no compensation. The Panthers were hopeful to the very end they would sign Boumeister but could not pull a rabbit out of their hat.
The Thrashers could use more goal celebrations from their second and third lines, which would cause for great jubilation for the team management.
White and Kozlov in particular could really help the team with more goal production in the second half.
The New Year's resolutions always include some reference to planning for a much anticipated vacation. For Thrashers' players the best trip would be to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Thrashers organization has not been a frequent playoff visitor, and nothing would be more satisfying than a prolonged stay and yearly visits.
Happy New Year!