Here's hoping that 2010 closes with a Thrashers and a Blues win - hockey double header day today, with the Thrashers game underway right now (started at 5:00) in New Jersey, and the Blues taking on the Coyotes tonight on Versus at 8:00. Everyone be careful, enjoy popping your champagne safely (especially if the Thrashers and Blues win on the same day - I'll chug a bottle) For now, your Moment of Zen, courtesy of Thrash:
2010 was a good year for both teams - 2011 shouldn't be any different.
And this, purchased by fellow Game Timer I_AM_SPARTACUS at the True Blues store at the game tonight should make everyone else live in fear. Frankly, it's haunting my dreams tonight:
For some reason, it strikes me as looking like one of the lost Staal brothers or something. Nevertheless, bobbleheads scare the bejesus out of me, and this is no exception. The only one that doesn't terrify me is the Thrash bobblehead that I own. He's cool, but that's because he's a giant bird.
Of course, there's always the Chris Pronger bobblehead if The Osh isn't scary enough:
But for tonight, darn you all. And that's all I'll say about the Thrashers' 6-3 asswhooping. The rest is over at SBNation Atlanta. Four game losing streak by Atlanta. Four game winning streak by St. Louis. Law of Hildy in full effect. Here's hoping that the law is bullshit and both teams win every night that they both play in 2011.
I have long whined and complained that my two teams, the St. Louis Blues and Atlanta Thrashers, are completely incapable of winning hockey games on the same night. Maybe it just seemed an unhappy coincidence, maybe it is just my natural cynical nature. Who knows. But with the Thrashers on this four game sliiiide that started last Tuesday with the Blues winning their head-to-head matchup, I find it more than timing that the Blues are now on a four game winning streak. Both teams sit at 7th in their conferences, and as long as they both make the playoffs I really almost don't care - but I had to take a look at this and see.
Let's look at the nights that the two teams have played on the same night:
October 9th: Thrashers lose, 5-2; Blues win, 2-1
October 16th: Thrashers win, 4-2; Blues lose, 3-2 (OTL)
October 22nd: Thrashers lose, 5-2; Blues win, 4-2
October 23rd: Thrashers lose, 4-3 (OTL); Blues win. 1-0
October 30th: Blues beat Thrashers, 4-3, in shootout
November 4th: Thrashers lose, 3-0; Blues win, 2-0
November 6th: Thrashers lose, 5-4 (OTL); Blues win, 2-1
November 11th: Thrashers win, 5-1; Blues lose, 3-2 (OTL)
November 13th: Thrashers lose, 4-2; Blues lose, 5-3
November 17th: Thrashers lose, 2-1; Blues lose, 7-3
November 19th: Thrashers win, 5-0; Blues win, 3-2
November 24th: Thrashers win, 5-1; Blues win, 2-1
November 26th: Thrashers win, 3-0; Blues lose, 2-1
November 30th: Thrashers win, 3-2; Blues lose, 7-5
December 4th: Thrashers win, 3-1; Blues lose, 2-1 (OTL)
December 11th: Thrashers win, 5-4; Blues lose, 2-1 (OTL)
December 15th: Thrashers lose, 2-1 (OTL); Blues lose, 5-2
December 16th: Thrashers lose, 3-2 (OTL); Blues win, 6-4
December 18th: Thrashers win, 7-1; Blues lose, 4-1
December 19th: Thrashers win, 6-3; Blues lose, 3-1
December 21st: Blues beat Thrashers, 4-2
December 23rd: Thrashers lose, 4-1; Blues win, 4-3
December 26th: Thrashers lose, 3-2 (OTL); Blues win, 2-0
December 28th: Thrashers lose, 6-3; Blues win, 3-1
So, as you can see, out of the 24 times the two teams play on the same night, only five times did they both either win or lose on the same night. The other 17 times (not counting the times that they played each other), one or the other won.
For those of you playfully accusing me of being favoritist towards St. Louis, during games played on the same night that follow the Law of Hildy, Atlanta is 8-5-4. The Blues are 8-5-4. And the teams have a record when not playing each other of 10-7-5 for ATL and 10-8-4, so the Thrashers wind up with one more point. Obviously, the Blues lead total with a 12-8-4 to a 10-8-6 record to the Thrashers, but both seem pretty evenly paired up when they play on the same night.
Which, of course, means that I'm neither too happy or too upset on any given night when both of my teams are playing. Wooo, here's to hockey and the Law of Hildy - keeping up the trend of "meh" through 2011!
Merry Christmas, Blues and Thrashers fans - and, aw heck, everyone else. Even Detroit fans. Here's hoping you get a white Christmas and everything you and your family wanted - unless you're the Ovie jersey kid. Then I hope that this year someone got you a Malkin jersey and then filmed your reaction just for shits and giggles.
I'm not going to lie - between my amazing powers as a walking jinx and the fact that the Blues iced the Peoria Rivermen's offense tonight, I thought that the Blues were going to lose. They didn't, and I'm pretty happy about that. What I'm less than thrilled about is that Atlanta didn't get it into OT to get the point that would have kept them in first place in the Southeast.
Yeah, I'm odd, I know. Anywho, a few observations:
Tonight showed the entire hockey world what Chris Mason's weakness is: high glove side. I hope that the rest of the league didn't take notes, but the Blues totally exploited their old goalie's major flaw.
The Blues are frustrated and have got to stop playing with an attitude when they're down. I understand the mentality behind it, but you can't take dumb penalties just because you're annoyed. Barret Jackman's trip on Evander Kane is something I wish that I had on video as some thing NOT to do. Kane and Jackman kind of went back and forth a bit, Kane obviously annoyed Jax, so Jackman tried to use his stick as a vaudeville hook to pull Kane down. Just put the stick at the knees and tugged. Stupid, stupid penalty. Apparently they didn't read Jeff Gordon's latest.
The buzz about the Thrashers has somehow managed to reach Atlanta sports fans. Amazing what can happen when college football is over. TOLD YOU, CANADA:
Philips Arena is really freaking loud when people are in it. People need to be in it more often.
The Blues have a hell of a penalty kill; they need to just figure out that powerplay ASAP. Getting Oshie, McDonald, and Perron back in 10 years might help that out.
The Thrashers and Blues both play waaaay too many games in December. While I love constantly watching hockey games very much, I'm worried that someone's going to get hurt on one or both of my teams.
Where were you/When Eric Boulton scored his first hat trick?
My butt was, proud to say, in section 113, getting pelted with hats. My full-game re-cap's over on SB Nation Atlanta, of course, and it's fairly formal as it should be. Here, however, formality tends to go out the window. So please allow me to say that the Greek Gods are currently probably the hardest working and well rounded line in hockey. They finished the night with four goals, three assists, and were a +11. The Thrashers absolutely pounded the New Jersey Devils into the ice, and I know that I said before the game not to get all "nyah nyah" about things, well, forget that. That was before the game, and I didn't want to jinx it. Now? Yeah, say it. NYAH.
The Thrashers are playing the best hockey in their franchise's history, and the Devils are playing some of their worst hockey since the franchise moved to New Jersey in 1982. The kicker is, of course, that their team is trapped in cap nightmare hell courtesy of their signing of too many expensive players to inappropriate contracts, which culminated in their deal with Ilya Kovalchuk. They have top-tier talent, and should not be 9-21-2, but there they sit, just two points better than the New York Islanders and two points away from the bottom of the league. Where's Atlanta, you might ask? Oh, just in first place in the Southeast Division, that's all:
This might not last long, depending on if the Capitals can actually break their eight game losing streak against Ottawa on Sunday. But that's not the point. The point is, the Thrashers can do it, and they can draw a crowd of over 17,000 people to watch them do it. Atlanta's a weird sports market that a lot of people don't understand - heck, being from St. Louis and watching the Cardinals sell out regardless of how well they play, I still don't understand Atlantans. But I have a feeling that this'll probably happen again soon. Not Tuesday night against the Blues (more later on my usual nervous breakdown enducing nightmare of a game) but it'll happen.
Something else we'll probably see a bunch more of? These kinds of headlines all over NHL.com:
The St. Louis Blues' franchise best season start seems like a far away, fuzzy memory now. Sure, the team's still well above .500 (15-10-5), but they've gone from having the best point percentage in the leaguge to 10th in the tight Western Conference. What's happened? A team that started healthy, young, and strong is now just young, thanks to the huge number of call-ups the team has had to do. Dragging up seven forwards from the Peoria Rivermen have given guys young and old (Dave Scatchard, anyone?) a chance to play for the big club. While I don't not enjoy watching the youth of the organization perform and do it well considering their skill set, I was looking forward to a Blues/Thrashers game on Tuesday, not a Rivermen/Thrashers match-up. It looks like I'll be getting the latter.
I will not be seeing this Tuesday night.
The Blues got lucky in that forward Vladimir Sobotka's injury sustained in the game against the Red Wings on the 15th wasn't a bad one - he played and scored in last night's 6-4 win over the Kings - but in general this season they've had more injuries to important players than any team deserves. Erik Johnson's the latest one. He re-tweaked his right knee Wednesday night while getting tangled up with Pavel Datsyuk, and is now day-to-day. It could have been much worse, but to have both he and Alex Pietrangelo out at the same time is depriving the team of two top young defensemen and their two top defensive time getters.
The injuries have been pretty evenly split between the forwards and defense this year; the defense seemed to suffer their injuries earlier in general than the forwards, but it's still costly. Who's out, you ask?
TJ Oshie - broken ankle, 11/11 - about 3 more months - missed 16 games
David Perron - concussion (totally faked), 11/5 - who knows - missed 20 games
Roman Polak - wrist laceration, 10/24 - unsure on return timetable - missed 23 games
Alex Pietrangelo - upper body - day to day - missed 3 games
Erik Johnson - knee - day to day - missed one game
There you have it. Pretty impressive list of those who're out. The teams top three scorers, and half of the defense. That's a decent explination of the problems they're having right now. If every single line doesn't kill themselves out there, the Blues lose because they're currently playing either AHL prospects or general AHL talent in those gaps. It was just as bad a few weeks ago. Here're the Blues who have been out and are back:
Carlo Colaiacovo - concussion, 10/30-11/15 - missed 7 games
Barrett Jackman - leg injury, 11/6-11/24 - missed 6 games
Cam Janssen - concussion, 10/11-10/27 - 6 games
Total, the team has lost 87 man games as of December 16th to injury and have had nine players injured so far this year - four fowards and five defensemen. If you'd like to know what happened to that miracle beginning and all of those playoff plans, there you go. Is it too late to fix things? Of course not. It's December, and it's not like the guys'll be broken forever, and sooner or later Brad Boyes will score non-shootout goals. David Backes has been heating up, and the secondary scoring last night was outstanding (Jay McClement, Sobotka, Brad Winchester, Eric Brewer, Alex Steen, and David Backes all scored). It's just a matter of consistancy in effort for the guys to claw their way back into the top eight.
One thing I have always found a way to grumble about has been the Atlanta Thrashers' lack of marketing. When the team was playing well last season, nary a peep was heard around Atlanta. Ads aren't shown on TV station outside of SportSouth and Fox SportSouth, and the guys are on the radio all of the time - but the ads aren't. The South Park style in-arena cartoons during players' Q&A sessions are funny, and the guys hit a home run with this one a few years back:
Generally, though, you get outside of the arena and there's squat. We have last year's Derelique theme, and the season before that's "Become a creepy zombie/Raiden look-alike in Blueland!" marketing fiasco - neither of which have been preserved for posterity anywhere on the web. This season's "Brutally Good Time" makes sense and fits. Novel concept.
As an effect of the poor marketing/too quiet charity work (the guys work their butts off and someone in the Atlanta media can pick this up once in a while) tossed in with the poor hockey that the Thrashers fans have been treated to, the attendance hasn't been too hot. This season there's every reason in the world to go to games, but still the marketing around the team hasn't been nearly as loud as the buzz. Until now.
The Thrashers have hit upon a viral marketing campaign that has the whole league talking (it's been mentioned on Puck Daddy already twice, here and here). Why not put the best asset the team has as far as fan goodwill, Thrash, in the spotlight? Thrash's probably the best mascot in the league, or at the very least the one who needs Ritalin the most as those who have watched him in action can attest to. His leaping chairs at the last town hall meeting, whapping himself where he didn't need to, and then grabbing a patron's beer to ease the pain was classic. Kids love him, adults love him, and he's just a great mascot all around. Having him steal a zamboni out of frustration for a PR stunt to get people to come out and see the team keeps in tradition with his persona. The videos are well done (check them out here) and not only have gotten noticed around ATL, but also around the hockey blogosphere. Good lord, Fox5 news even reported on it:
The question here is if it is a good idea to so explicitly ask for people to buy tickets, and to be obvious about the fact that people aren't coming to see the games. It's not like the Thrashers' attendance woes aren't a huge secret. Jack Edwards of all people even wrote an excellent missive of persuasion to get fans to come here at see the team. Atlanta sports fans are impossible to understand. It takes a long period of extended success to get people to come to games, and just a teeny period of failure for folks to throw in the towel. Add that to a sport whose season directly competes with three different kinds of football, and it's going to be tough. Maybe just calling people out on the fact that hey, you've been whining about there "not being a product worth seeing" for the past God knows long might work. Maybe drawing attention to the fact that people need to just suck it up and go enjoy a game without the angst, or the boycotts, or the wishy-washiness or whatever is the current earmark du jour of Atlant sports fans might be successful.
At the very least, we're forever given an image of Thrash walking out of the Gwinnett County courthouse with a coat over his head.
When it was all said and done, the groups' main hope was that someone outside of the 10,000 in attendance heard their message. Those in the stands heard them loud and clear but they weren't the main target. That has to be the league office, who plays a big part in whether or not they can help the Nation achieve their goal. "We don't want the Thrashers," Morin said. "We don't want the Islanders. We don't want the Florida Panthers. We want a team of our own."
Sure. Like I said before, I support the Quebec fans in wanting a team for your own, but you're not getting ours - and blatantly cheering for the Islanders against the Thrashers sent your message loud and clear. And no help from the Islanders, who welcomed the Nordiques fans and gave them a shoutout on the jumbotron. Your franchise is in worse shape than the Thrashers - the only thing that's saving you is your history. Being supportive of a group who is there and who some members of have advocated the movement of NHL franchises based on attendance and recent success is a bit odd, all things considered.