A Peepin' Foes? How about that. This is a limited scouting report as I've only been able to see one Atlanta game so far this season, and it could hardly be judged as true showing of their abilities as Ondrej Pavelec suddenly collapsed just minutes in. Well Pavelec survived - they still don't know what happened - but he will not be in New York tonight as the Thrashers visit the Rangers. He is down with the Wolves so we will see Chris Mason starting with former Islander Peter Mannino backing him up.
Where We Are: Coming off of three terrific efforts where the team finally appeared to 'get it.' Guys hustled, guys worked, and guys battled. Their pathetic power play didn't hobble them too much as they dispatched the Leafs, Bruins and Devils.
Where They Are: On a three game losing streak, having lost to Buffalo, Tampa and Washington. The most recent result was an overtime loss to the Caps where they lost the lead twice, tied the game with 33 seconds left and fell in overtime on a goal by Flash (Tomas Fleischmann). Mason made 40 saves but Atlanta lost 41 of 64 faceoffs and were outshot 44-32.
Who To Watch For: Former Devil Niclas Bergfors has been underwhelming but the contingent of reining Stanley Cup winners have helped carry the Atlanta core. Andrew Ladd (despite the photo on the right) is scoring at a point per game and big Dustin Byfuglien has six points in eight games despite moving back to the blueline. Young, undersized Swede Tobias Enstrom has stepped up as the power play quarterback and up front Evander Kane - he of the Cooke knockout - has five goals. Rich Peverley has yet to score this season but has historically been quite good against the Rangers (six points in six games). Anthony Stewart hasn't been quite as hot as his brother Chris (who clobbered us last week) but he has been contributing.
What To Watch For: Mason has started two games against the Rangers and won them both, albeit while with St. Louis. He thrives while facing a lot of rubber so the Blueshirts can't allow him to get comfortable. Borat, Nic Antropov, was benched for the Caps game and his time off might ignite his game. Former Devil Johnny Oduya should get good minutes with Zach Bogosian out with injury and he has been tough for the Rangers in the past.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: Another strong, strong effort by the Blueshirts. As I keep saying, these are the games where the Rangers come in underestimating their opponent and they don't play 100%. They have to play 100% and keep this run going. How about a few power play goals? Wouldn't that be nice. Boogaard vs Eager - forget Boulton, the goon. Eager will do his best to cause havoc and, with Prust still healing from the high stick to the eye, you don't want to see Avery get his ass kicked by the former Flyer.
Also Check Out: The Thrashers keep their own blog/PR machine called Blueland, the main stream media in Atlanta actually cover the team and Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons? (I still hate the SBN name so I won't use it) is a solid read.