They say “It ain't over till the fat lady sings.”
The Atlanta Thrashers have tried hard to keep from hearing that song.
In the last several games, the Thrashers have skated with purpose and heart, putting together a winning streak after losing six games and having almost everyone write them off.
The prospect of the Thrashers making the Stanley Cup playoffs have even gotten the local broadcast team excited. For the first time in a while, you can hear the exuberance in Darren Elliot’s voice, which goes a long way in making the game more exciting to the fans.
This year the playoffs are around the corner, making the Thrashers' playoff hopes right around the corner too.
Atlanta has shown naysayers that they have the talent and resolve to compete. Who would have believed two months ago that the Thrashers could beat the Philadelphia Flyers in back-to-back games? Even with now-absent star winger Kovalchuk, many would have doubted the Thrashers could dominate a physical team like the Flyers.
The Thrashers are trying hard to synergize. Their success or failure will ultimately determine whether they can overtake the Boston Bruins for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Since the departure of Kovalchuk, the team has displayed surprising talent, hustle, and teamwork. Players like Max Afinogenov, Nik Antropov, Ron Hainsey, Todd White, goalie Johan Hedberg, and Jim Slater have recently come up big to contribute to the Thrashers' wins.
With the steady play of Peverley, Enstrom, Kubina, and new additions Bergfor, Chelios and Oduya, the Thrashers are catching off guard teams who think that the Thrashers are easy prey.
Even with the improved play, the Thrashers still have not been able to develop comfort with their passing game. One of the major differences between the Thrashers and their opponents is Atlanta’s inability to place pucks on the tape of a teammate's stick.
In a game against Boston, the Thrashers made passes in skates and behind the play too many times to count. When they tried to clear the puck or dump it into the Bruin’s territory it landed right on a Bruin player's stickblade.
Ondrej Pavelec made several outstanding saves, which kept the Thrashers in the game. The tandem of Hedberg and Pavelec have met coach Anderson's expectations, backstopping several critical games down the stretch.
If the Thrashers indeed make the playoffs, several players will have to step up big to set the tone and show leadership. They must make up for their deficiencies in the offensive zone with inspired defensive play.
The Stanley Cup playoffs usually produce great defensive efforts. Teams that rely on their offensive talents are generally the first to depart.
Therefore, Thrashers fans can take heart; the fat lady hasn’t even looked at her sheet music yet.
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