The Thrashers went winless in their first six games, and scored just nine goals in that span. Throw in a few key injuries and the team's postseason prospects were looking bleak.
And then things started to turn around.
The first order of business?
Head coach Bob Hartley—out.
GM Don Waddell—in
The Thrashers have gone 11-4 with Waddell behind the bench, and now sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with an 11-10-0 record. That mark is good for second in the Southeast Division, behind the Carolina Hurricanes.
Waddell's most important move has been to put All-Stars Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk together on the No. 1 line. The result: an unprecedented 35 points and a +14 from the duo in the last 10 games.
Hossa and Kovalchuk have also shown composure in logging only four total penalty minutes between them—and focusing instead on what they do best:
In goal, the Thrashers got a lift when Kari Lehtonen went down with a groin injury on October 18th. Lehtonen had started the season 0-4 with a 4.48 GAA. In his stead, veteran backup Johan Hedberg has posted an 8-4 record with a 3.04 GAA and one shutout.
The Thrashers are also benefiting from play of rookie Tobias Enstrom. The Swedish defenseman has tallied 13 points in 21 games—with nine of those points coming in his last 10 games, when Enstrom has compiled a +8 plus/minus ranking.
With their full roster finally producing, the Thrashers' stock is on the rise—and another playoff spot looks to be in the cards.