Atlanta Thrashers Change Up Goaltending and Lines, Earn Shootout Win

Peter BojarinovAnalyst INovember 9, 2009

UNIONDALE, NY - NOVEMBER 07:  Ondrej Pavelec #31of the Atlanta Thrashers surrenders a goal to Jack Hillen (not pictured) of the New York Islanders as Pavel Kubina #77 of Atlanta defends against Blake Comeau #57 on November 7, 2009 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

On Sunday night, the Thrashers hosted the St. Louis Blues in the Philips Arena.

It’s surprising just a few days ago I had written that the Thrashers needed to change up their defensive pairings, which would guide them to better defense and wins.

The last few games of losses, which included a 6-3 loss on Saturday night from the lowly yet now streaking New York Islanders, lead to Coach John Anderson to switch up his lines.

Most of this season, the Thrashers have had fairly bad defense, and having two young more offensive minded defensemen on the same pairing has puzzled me. Yes, they’ve produced offense, but just offense doesn’t win games.

On Sunday, Coach Anderson finally decided to split up Tobias Enstrom and Zack Bogosian. Enstrom played with Pavel Kubina, and Bogosian skated with Ron Hainsey, as well Mark Popovic was inserted into the line-up putting Anssi Salmela as a healthy scratch.

“Obviously we didn’t play well in our zone last night. We did much better tonight [Sunday],” Kubina said.

Not only did the defense look better, after a couple of shifts, the offense from them was still there.

Down two to zero with only 8 minutes remaining in the game, both Enstrom and Hainsey had potted a goal each to send the game into extras.

Thrashers eventually won in the shootout, with goals from Rich Peverley and Slava Kozlov, and two saves from starter Johan Hedberg.

Who also replaced Ondrej Pavelec, their goaltending this season has had some terrific games, but at the same time, they’ve had some awful ones as well. Hedberg was made starter after a not so memorial performance on the Island from Pavelec.

Look for the Thrashers to keep these lines in the next few games, and for them to take some time to gel. In time, their defense will get more acclimated and play solid, game in and game out.

Note: Thrashers led with 40 shots, the offense with their own line changes worked, but also need more time to get accustomed to each other, Nik Antropov led the game in shots with seven, his previous high three. As well, the Thrashers won their first home game after four straight previous losses.