Thrashers succeeding minus Ilya Kovalchuk

Kovy.jpgNow before I get into the meat of this post, I want to make it clear
that I don’t necessarily think that trading Ilya Kovalchuk made the
Atlanta Thrashers automatically better. But I guess that’s what this
article is saying, so….take it was you will. The numbers are
interesting and speak for themselves.

The Atlanta Thrashers did
not make the Ilya Kovalchuk trade out of a will to improve their team
for this season; they needed to get some value for a player they would
lose to free agency this summer no matter what. The Thrashers have been
up and down all season long, actually looking like they might be a
top-five team in the East earlier this season. The season went south,
and the Thrashers traded, yet again, a superstar player who is one of
the best players in the NHL.

Since then, the Thrashers have
overcome a near disastrous six-game losing streak and stand on the
precipice of knocking the Boston Bruins out of the playoffs.

They
also have a better record than the New Jersey Devils since the trade.

Since
February 5, the day after the trade was made, Atlanta is 8-6-3 (19
points) and New Jersey is 7-7-2 (16 points). Not exactly a cavernous
difference in the records of the two teams, but considering the
expectations of the two teams — and the talent levels involved — it is
a bit alarming.

I also looked at the level of competition between
the two during this time, and found that both the Devils and Thrashers
faced ten teams total that are playoff-caliber teams (top nine in the
conference). The Thrashers currently have a four-game winning streak
against four playoff teams in the East.

So what’s the reason for
the Thrashers appearing to be playing at the same level or better than
the Devils? No specific reason, and it’s most likely a bit of a
coincidence. The Thrashers also have a six-game losing streak in that
time, so it’s not as if they’ve been playing at a very high level
overall since the trade. And they’ve been able to climb back into the
playoff race due to some timely losses by the Bruins and Rangers.

Meanwhile
the Devils are fighting for the division lead with the Pittsburgh
Penguins, and the number two seed in the conference. In the short term,
it may appear as if the Thrashers have been freed up and are playing
better after the trade. Yet I’m willing to be that the Devils have the
better long-term success in the playoffs.

Especially if Atlanta
sneaks into the playoffs just to come up against the monster that is the
Washington Capitals.

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    No bread: Illness likely sidelines Panarin for Blackhawks tonight

    Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates after scoring an empty-net goal on an assist from Patrick Kane against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Chicago. The Blackhawks won 3-1. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
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    A lot has gone Artemi Panarin‘s way this season – to the point where he could be the Calder frontrunner – but Tuesday seems like it isn’t his night.

    Barring a surprise twist, the Chicago Blackhawks rookie won’t be able to play against the San Jose Sharks. Instead, it looks like Jiri Sekac will take his place in the lineup.

    In other lineup news, it appears that Rob Scuderi will be a healthy scratch for Chicago.

    Want to know what the Blackhawks’ lines look like without “The Bread Man?” CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers gives you an idea:

    Video: Devils honor Martin Brodeur, retire his No. 30

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    As the all-time leader in an array of categories, numbers mean a lot when you talk about Martin Brodeur.

    Still, Tuesday represented another important chapter … one that provides some sense of closure, as the New Jersey Devils retired his No. 30.

    You can see some of the most important moments in the video below:

    There are some other great sensory details captured by the Devils’ Twitter (not to mention the NHL’s) feed, so here are some additional highlights:

    Still not enough Marty for you? Check this out:

    WATCH LIVE: Dallas Stars at Minnesota Wild

    Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza (90) and Minnesota Wild right wing Justin Fontaine (14) chase the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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    The Minnesota Wild hope to turn things around, yet facing the Dallas Stars certainly ratchets up the degree of difficulty.

    On the other hand, sometimes that’s the best way to regain confidence: overcome an especially formidable obstacle.

    Whether the Wild flounder or rebound, you can watch the action on NBCSN and stream it via the link below.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    After 8-1 loss to Isles, Oilers send Reinhart to AHL, make Schultz healthy scratch

    Edmonton Oilers' Justin Schultz (19) and New York Rangers' Dominic Moore (28) fight for control of the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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    Not surprisingly, Edmonton’s 8-1 loss to the Islanders on Sunday didn’t pass without consequences.

    The Oilers announced this morning that defenseman Griffin Reinhart had been sent down to the AHL. Additionally, defenseman Justin Schultz is expected to be a healthy scratch tonight in New Jersey.

    Reinhart was a team-worst minus-4 versus the Isles.

    Schultz, whose name has been coming up in trade rumors…

    …was a minus-2.

    “He needs to watch a game and reflect on his play and what his impact is offensively and defensively,” coach Todd McLellan told reporters of the decision to sit Schultz against the Devils.

    Darnell Nurse and Adam Clendening, scratches in Brooklyn, will replace Reinhart and Schultz in the lineup.