Its gonna be a war. The Thrashers are going to play this like its the Stanley Cup finals and we might be overlooking them. This is a "danger game" because its the first time a team will be really gunning for us hard after our division title win.
I say 4-3 Lightning, and its going to take a mighty third period effort. You can't give a guy like Kovalchuk the turnovers and odd man rushes we gave Jersey and expect to be successful early.
I think the Dirt line will have trouble with Kovalchuk. It's times like this where I :gulp: wish we had an Olvestad to stick on him and hang out in his backpocket all game.
To me, the game falls on Nurminen's shoulders. He's been solid all year. If the Lightning can bury enough chances, we'll see a score like the one Pete is predicting. I think ATL will score at least 2, maybe 4 if we give up as many chances as we did Jersey.
I don't think Atlanta has the defense or checking to match up with us. Nurminen still hasn't proven he is a good/reliable goaltender, and although Kovalchuck is still dominant, outside Kozlov and Savard they have no one that really scares me. Especially being at home, I think it will be an easy win; they can put up 7 on Chicago but not against us.
ATL should have won this game 7-2. If not for an unreal effort from Khabi they would have.
TB had maybe 4 or 5 decent scoring chances before the OT PP.
Great checking, great team defense, and very good forechecking and aggressive play in the o-zone. MUCH, much improved puck possession. Bob Hartley is a genius... and in some people's minds, he should have never gotten a shot in the NHL because he was an inexperienced AHL coach who focused on detail and accountability coming off a Calder Cup Championship. (my GOSH, that sounds a little familiar).
ATL was, BY FAR, the better team last night. It's a miracle TB came out of that with 2 points.
The same folks that are saying ATL is an easy win and has no defense and Nurminen isn't solid (which he is - if you've seen him in any game this year), are the same folks that still think Richards is a LW, TB is an easy win, the earth is flat and other notions from years ago. Teams get better, teams get worse, players develop, players get worse... things change.
It would have been 7-2 Bolts if the Lightning brought anything more than a minimum effort. Don't get me wrong, Atlanta is a good team and I think they have a great shot at making the playoffs; but they haven't added anything new and lost 1(a) of their top two scoring threats. If Hartly can continue to get them to play with confidence and energy, then they can overcome the talent deficiet. But the fact is that even on a minimum effort the Lightning were almost able to come out of that game winning 2-0 in regulation.
If they fade toward the deadline that Savard kid looks like he'd be a great pick up. Put him on Stillman's line and more Louie up and we would be devestating; he and Stillman were great together in Calgary
I thought Savard played center in Calgary, but I believe I seen him on the left side when he scored that tieing goal? Even at that I don't think that either of the three are cemented at any position.
You mean to tell me that Atlanta is that much better than the Bolts that they can dominate us? The players themselves even said that they could have been a little more intense. The point that im trying to make is that even when Atlanta comes rdy to play, and the Bolts take a night off, we can still almost win 2-0. Thats saying something IMO. Maybe the team was just hanging on to that one goal lead after the relativly quick start; and it almost worked. I give Atlanta credit for coming back, and being ready to play; but they still can't match the Lightning's talent and depth, especially if the team comes prepared; that doesn't make me a homer for saying that either.
I agree ATL can't match TB's talent and depth, but that's not necessarily what wins games in the NHL these days, and that doesn't mean ATL didn't play a great game. They did. ATL outworked TB in every aspect of the game the other night. If not for the peformance of one man -- Nikolai Khabibulin -- the Thrashers win that game handily. If Khabi took the night off like the other 18 guys, we'd have gotten crushed. ATL is playing great hockey right now. They deserved 2 points in that one, not because we sucked but because they played great.
Savard took the faceoff, won it back, and charged the net while his LWer tied up Taylor. Andreychuk couldn't get over to get him.
ATL was the better team two nights ago. It's a testament to Khabi that TB almost won 2-0. I don't believe ATL is the better team overall, no, but the difference is not so great where comments like "Anybody see us coming out tommorow with a win? I personally don't think its going to be a problem" should be thrown out. "I don't think Atlanta has the defense or checking to match up with us" and "Nurminen still hasn't proven he is a good/reliable goaltender" were also skewed. While on paper ATL may not have the defense and your statement, pre-game, was true, if you watched the game you could see they were more than up to the challenge and it was practically reversed. We couldn't do squat 5 on 5. That's a testament to their defense and checking, is it not? Nurminen had a winning record last year and has been solid for the last year and a half. He's proven he's good and reliable.
When TB got good I wanted credit given to them. ATL is a good team and they deserve the credit, not opinions about them drudged up from pre-Hartley. That's all I'm saying. Also, the comment "they haven't added anything new" is inaccurate. As Peckham or Chief pointed out, the grinders they acquired made a big difference. Youngsters get older, they continue to gell... much like Tampa.
If I told you ATL had more wins over the 2nd half of last year than Tampa would you believe me? It's true.
Geez, I sound like a Thrashers fan.
I will say this, though. If ATL loses Kozlov and/or McEachern to injury, it will be very tough for them to stay in the playoff race.