Two OFB readers last night left us critical comment feedback from last night’s 4-3 Caps’ triumph in Atlanta, one reader chastising the visitors for playing heart-challenged “keep-away” during last night’s third period and the other accusing the guests of “lolly-gagging around” in the final frame. I don’t think either critique unfair, or without merit, but I’m going to offer a third vantage: the John Anderson Thrashers play a brand of never-say-die hockey deeply emblematic of the head coach’s philosophy.
- It’s partly hunch on my part, partly conviction that Anderson and Boudreau are cut from the same cloth, but I believe Atlanta made a fantastic hire with Anderson in the summer of 2008. Anderson and Bruce Boudreau are well known for being former teammates in pro hockey and best friends, but there’s a good deal more similarity between them. Both are Toronto guys, both are multiple championship winning coaches in minor pro hockey, including Calder Cup titles, and both paid decades of dues in minor pro hockey before earning the big call up. The more I watch of John Anderson’s Atlanta club — and particularly one like last night missing its franchise player — the more I’m of the opinion that John Anderson will enjoy a long and prosperous NHL run. Prior to his hiring by the Thrashers, in his 13 seasons as a head coach Anderson’s hockey teams made the postseason twelve times.
- I’m just not a believer that it will last much longer in Atlanta. From the Associated Press recap of the game: “The announced crowd at Philips Arena was 12,893, but the actual turnout appeared to be no more than 8,000.” If that’s true — and it sure looked to be so — a draw of 8,000 for Ovi and the Caps strikes me as a virtual death sign of hockey in Atlanta.
- The Thrashers certainly won’t jettison Anderson this season, or next; instead I think the Thrashers will be forced to jettison Atlanta. It’s a question of when. For the second time in a week the world’s greatest hockey player visited Atlanta, with his near best-in-the-league hockey club, and the stands in Philips Arena were less than half full. What will those Atlanta home dates with the Panthers look like? There was one Comcast camera shot last night that captured a glimpse of the Philips upper mezzanine that appeared to show not a soul seated in it.
- I mean why is Commissioner Bettman traveling to Quebec City to meet with a mayor there in the opening month of a new hockey season?
- I agree with Mike Vogel, who last night on the radio claimed that for the second consecutive game the Caps were on the receiving end of an egregiously bad penalty call resulting in the opposition being awarded a penalty shot.
- Brooks Laich, with his second three-point night of the young season, has already matched his trifecta tally in a game output of a season ago. In his last 19 regular season games (including this year and last year), Laich has four three-point games and eight multiple-point games for 23 points (eight goals and 15 assists) during that time. Remember that earlier this month I lavished praise enough on Laich such that I sought to establish him as a longshot Canadian Olympic team rosteree. Those odds remain uber-long, but I haven’t changed my opinion as it relates to the maturation of his game.
- Memo to Brian Burke, David Poile, Don Waddle, Dean Lombardi, and Ray Shero — the collective GM braintrust that will assemble the American roster for the Vancouver Olympic games: please review film of Zach Bogosian from last night and adjust your envisioned blueline accordingly. Zach is young, obviously, but he put up 19 points in just 47 games with the Thrash as a rookie last year. And he did skate for the Americans at the 2009 World Championships.
- If Varly was in a slump, last night’s 38-save performance suggested it was over. Still, Bruce Boudreau, while beaming about his young goaltender’s effort, was irate with his team’s third period, again. In no uncertain terms he said that a lion’s share of responsibility for Varly’s three goals surrendered were on the skaters in front of him. “[Varly] kept us in the game in the third period,” the coach said in the postgame. “It’s ridiculous how we let up and just let teams back in the game.”