The Atlanta Thrashers are in town to take on the Bruins tonight in a Festivus tilt at TD Garden before the NHL breaks for Christmas. This is the the second of four meetings between the Bruins and Thrashers this season. In their first game, Atlanta cruised to a 4-1 victory at Philips Arena on November 28th.
The Thrashers are a much-improved hockey club this year after pulling Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd off of the Blackhawks' scrap heap in the off-season. The Thrashers are 19-12-5 and a battling with the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning for the top spot in the Southeast Division. Byfuglien and Ladd are tied for the team-lead with 12 goals and have 36 points and 31 points, respectively.
In goal, Ondrej Pavelec seems to have beat out Chris Mason for the starting job. Pavelec has a 12-6-3 record with a 1.82 GAA, .943 save percentage, and 2 shutouts. Pavelec ranks second in the NHL behind Tim Thomas is both GAA and save percentage.
- Brad Marchand (undisclosed injury) sat out Wednesday's practice and is considered questionable for tonight's game.
- The Thrashers do not have any major injuries to report.
- In what can only be lazy schedule making, the Bruins also played the Thrashers on Festivus last year at TD Garden. The B's won that contest 6-4.
- The Thrashers lost 4-2 to the St. Louis Blues at home on Tuesday night.
- Atlanta has scored 15 goals in their last 3 games. Over that same stretch, the Bruins have scored 6 goals.
- Atlanta is 5th in the league in offensive production with 3.22 goals per game.
- The Thrashers and Bruins both give up 33.9 shots per game.
- The Binghamton Senators are fully embracing the holiday of Festivus.
- The game starts at 7:00 PM ET and airs on NESN. 98.5 FM The Sports Hub has the radio broadcast.
- Public Skate open thread gets underway at 6:30 PM ET.
With this being Festivus and all, I thought I would incorporate some of the traditions of the holiday into today's preview:
The Airing of Grievances:
"The Falconer": Usually I let bygone be bygones, but with a game against the Thrashers on Festivus, I figured this was a great opportunity to call you out. You are a self-important ATL-Hole with zero sense of humor. Take the Easton composite out of your ass and relax. This is hockey blogging. Have some fun. Most people reading this probably have no idea what I am talking about and that is because you do not believe enough in what you write to keep it posted. For the record, I have never dropped an F-Bomb in the title of a post. Who is the real "professional"?
Claude Julien: Light a fire under the ass of everyone in that room! Despite the fact that the Bruins brass is telling everyone that your job is safe, you need to start motivating your players as if you could be fired today. The reality is no matter what they say, they could fire you today. You should know that better than anyone.
Peter Chiarelli: Are we supposed to be happy that your solution to the cap mess you created was to give away player assets without getting anything in return?
Zdeno Chara: Start showing that you deserve that "C" on your sweater and show that you are a leader.
Daniel Paille: I know you have not had much playing time this year, but at times you look like you have never played the game before. Last year you were a solid PK guy, this year you look tentative out there.
Marc Savard: I know it is going to take time for you to get your game back. I'm just wondering if you came back too early...again. You look like a shadow of your former self out there.
Nathan Horton: Great start, but where is Mr. October now?
Bruins Neutral Zone Play: The Bruins have looked awful lately in the neutral zone. I do not know how many times I have seen a defenseman make a good pass to a forward in the neutral zone only to see him cough it up or dump the puck in with no one in pursuit of the dump-in.
NHL Officiating: I don't really complain about officiating much, but their have been a lot of bogus ticky-tack calls made this year. Let the kids play!
Feats of Strength:
Last game against the Atlanta Thrashers featured two fights. Matt Hunwick fought Evander Kane and Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves with Eric Boulton. The Thrashers only have 14 fighting majors this season, but they have plenty of guys that can throw haymakers. I think there is a pretty good chance we will see a feat of strength or two this Festivus.
The Festivus Poll:
Everyone is asking it, so I figured I would put it out there...