Greetings and salutations hockey world! Or more specifically Thrasherville as I doubt there are that many non-Thrashers fans perusing my posts. But if you’re just a hockey fan doing a drive-by, thanks for the page view!! Anyway, what am I here for? Well, as the title might indicate, my mid-year report and recap of the Thrashers is about a week overdue. The Thrashers have already played games #42 and #43 so I’m a bit behind. Work has been brutal lately and I’ve had very little time to think about writing let alone write. But I digress.
Because I am a stat junkie, as well as a curious sort of monkey, I have cobbled together some interesting statistical tidbits with which to tantalize you — okay, I must confess I maintain a working spreadsheet to keep up with all sorts of things related to the Thrashers and their play. Rather than just give you simply a sampling of Thrashers’ first half stats relative to the rest of the league, I’ve decided to present to you several 10-game statistical snapshots as well as a comparison of the first 21 games with the most recent 21 games (prior to the win in Montreal). Before I comment on the numbers, here they are for your cognitive fancy and wonderment:
First 10 games:
**Note: keep in mind that all GF, GA, SF and SA averages have been adjusted for Shootout “goals” and empty-net goals as they aren’t necessarily a true indicator of how a team plays over 60 mins.
Goals For of 3.10 vs Goals Allowed of 3.40 (-0.30) with a record of 5 – 4 – 1 for 11 points; Shots For of 28.1 vs Shots Against of 35.5 (-7.40) with a SV% of only .904 and a Shooting % of 11.07; Power Play Goals Scored were 11 For vs 9 Against.
Second 10 games:
Goals For of 3.00 vs Goals Allowed of 2.80 (+0.20) with a record of 3 – 5 – 2 for only 8 points; Shots For of 31.9 vs Shots Against of 35.5 (-3.60) with a SV% of .921 and a Shooting % of 9.40; PP Goals Scored were 8 For vs 7 Against. Since Ondrej Pavelec did not start one of the first 10 games, here are his stats for the 2nd ten-game period: 2 – 4 – 2 record with a SV% of .936 and a 2.05 GAA.
Third 10 games:
Goals For of 3.20 vs Goals Allowed of 1.80 (+1.40) with a record of 8 – 2 – 0 for 16 points; Shots For of 33.0 vs Shots Against of 31.9 (+1.10) with a SV% of .944 and a Shooting % of 9.70; PP Goals Scored were 8 For vs 4 Against. Pavelec during the 3rd ten-game period: 7 – 2 – 0 record with a SV% of .952 and a 1.54 GAA.
Fourth set of 10 games:
Goals For of 2.90 vs Goals Allowed of 2.80 (+.10) with a record of 4 – 3 – 3 for 11 points; Shots For of 30.3 vs Shots Against of 33.3 (-3.00) with a SV% of .916 and a Shooting % of 9.6; PP Goals Scored were only 5 For vs 7 Against. Pavelec during the 4th ten-game period: 4 – 2 – 2 record with a SV% of .917 and a 2.81 GAA. Please note that his numbers include the one game in which Pavs allowed more than 4 goals in a game all year (against the Pens on Christmas Eve eve).
Best 15 games:
Goals For of 3.27 vs Goals Allowed of 1.93 (+1.34) with a record of 10 – 5 – 0 for 20 points; Shots For of 33.3 vs Shots Against of 31.6 (+1.70) with a SV% of .939 and a Shooting % of 9.8; PP Goals Scored were 9 For vs 7 Against. Pavelec during this period: 9 – 5 – 0 record with a SV% of .951 and a 1.54 GAA (Pavelec started 14 straight games during this stretch).
Last 21 vs First 21 (4 of the 6-game win streak was in 2nd half):
First 21) 3.00 vs 3.00 (adjusted) for record of 9 – 9 – 3; 30.24 vs 35.19 (-4.95); .915 and 9.9%
Last 21) 3.05 vs 2.43 (adjusted) for record of 12 – 6 – 3; 31.19 vs 33.38 (-2.19); .927 and 9.8%
The biggest thing to take away from this is that the numbers pretty much mirror what you would expect if you’re familiar with the ebb and flow of this season’s Thrashers. Under a new coach and new management regime, things took awhile to come together defensively as evidenced by the startling bad defensive numbers for the first 10 games, especially the shots allowed. But as things progressed, you can see a gradual progression towards numbers that seem to fit a team battling for a bottom four playoff seed. At their best, the Thrashers seem to be able to play with and beat anybody. At their worst, they generally hold their own and give themselves a chance to win on most nights save for the rare 5 to 2 or 6 to 3 drubbing by Tampa Bay or Pittsburgh.
Should the defensive numbers continue to improve over the final 39 games, and even with a slight drop-off offensively towards an average of 2.8 goals for and a shooting percentage of 9%, the Thrashers should find themselves in the thick of the playoff race and perhaps even battling for the division title. Of course, for that to happen, the Thrashers “scoring by committee” approach must continue along without much of a hiccup. Right now, going into a game with the Maple Leafs on home ice tonite, the Thrashers can boast that they have 6 players with 10 or more goals and 4 more with 7 or more goals. If they end up with six 20-goal scorers or eight 15-goal scorers, then chances are they will be in contention for a lot of things.
Lastly, the Thrashers second-half schedule sets up rather favorably in terms of getting ample rest throughout the remaining 39 games. The Thrashers led the league in games played as of January 1st and were the first to hit 43 games. In fact, the Ice Birds had to play those 43 games in only 90 calendar days. Luckily, they have roughly 95 days left in the NHL calendar to play their final 39 games, which should really help with not only rest, but by affording them more practice time to tweak problem areas such as PP zone-entries, transition defense and “prevent-defense” tactics that are employed for late 1-goal leads. Most importantly, the extra rest in between the majority of games — the Thrashers only play 5 more back-to-back games the rest of the way — should really benefit goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who has shouldered the brunt of the load over the last 30 or so games. With the extra time to rest, and the prospect of an improved defensive unit through rest and practice, the Thrashers should be able to maintain their playoff worthy pace. We shall see.
About the Author: Accountant / Analyst who has a nagging writing addiction when it comes to hockey. I've been a hockey fan since I was a wee tyke and now my allegiance to the Atlanta Thrashers has me "mentally thrashed". My other long-time passion is the game of golf so I'm a glutton for punishment! As a mid to late 30-something, I'm blessed to have a girlfriend who aids and abets my hockey / blogging obsession. Hockey heroes include: Gilbert Perreault, Adam Oates (Go RPI!), Pat LaFontaine and Marty Reasoner. Follow me on the twitter machine @j_barty_party