Atlanta Thrashers are the masters of frustration

thrashers.jpgEvery now and then, Pro Hockey Talk will ask for insight from some of the best team bloggers out there. For this feature, we asked a simple question: “Who is your team’s most frustrating player?” Just for fun, Brandon and I also provided our “guesses” as to who that player might be.

First, here are our guesses for Atlanta.

Brandon: Vyacheslav Kozlov – To me this was a no-brainer. I’m not exactly certain what Thrashers fans feel, but someone who is the 2nd-highest paid forward on the team should never have the lowest plus/minus, while putting up wholly pedestrian numbers.

James: Vyacheslav Kozlov – The player who was once among the league’s most underrated is now one of its most frustrating. I doubt you’ll see him in an NHL uniform next season.

Laura Astorian is one of our best blogging buddies and happens to be a go-to source for both St. Louis Blues and Atlanta Thrashers blogging goodness. She’s also helping out with Cycle like the Sedins among many other endeavors. You might as well follow her on Twitter just to be safe.

Asking for only one great source of frustration for a Thrashers fan is like asking someone at Godiva what their favorite truffle is. The common areas of irritation are Kozlov, White, Armstrong, and Pavelec. It’s extremely easy to target any of those players as someone who makes you want to pull your hair out. Kozlov and White, after career years for each of them last season, dropped off the radar. Somehow, though, despite similar production and a similarly horrible +/-, only Kozlov found himself benched. White has been placed out there time and time again, and despite being fairly serviceable on the penalty kill, at even strength all that he does is highlight the need to get Kane back.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s being played over Kozlov because he still has a year left on a contract we overpaid for, and Kozzie’s a UFA … but what do I know?

Army, well, I have seen a gangster in cement shoes skate faster than he does. He’s another victim of heightened expectations for this season.

The biggest frustration, but the easiest to cope with, is that of Ondrej Pavelec. He’s only 22, so you can argue that he has more than enough time to find his stride. He has had flashes of absolute brilliance, and then lays a massive egg the next game. His confidence got rattled after some rough OT/shootouts. There was a stretch of where it seemed like he allowed an average of 3-4 goals every time he started. He’s working stuff out, but as close as the Thrashers are to a playoff spot, it’s rough to think of the games that we could have won if Johan Hedberg had been in goal.

On the flip side, we would have signed Legace and his knee would have imploded after 3 starts, and then we’d be right back where we are now. I’m convinced that they have a framed plaque of Murphy’s Law up on the wall in the locker room somewhere.

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    The NHL Draft Lottery is tonight, here are the odds for every team and TV information

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    Saturday night is going to be a big night for the 14 NHL teams that did not qualify for the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs because one of them will be the lucky winner of the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery, giving them the No. 1 pick in the draft.

    While there probably isn’t going to be a Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews at the top of this year’s class, the top-two prospects (Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier) both have huge potential.

    The Colorado Avalanche, owners of the NHL’s worst record in 2016-17, have the best odds at winning the lottery. The Avalanche last selected first overall in 2013 when they picked Nathan MacKinnon. New York Islanders have a less than one percent chance of winning.

    The expansion Vegas Golden Knights have a 10.3 percent chance of winning the top pick.

    Here is everything you need to know about tonight’s lottery

    When: 8 p.m. ET, just prior to faceoff of Game 2 of the Pittsburgh Penguins-Washington Capitals second-round playoff series

    TV: NBC

    Odds for every team in the lottery:

    Colorado Avalanche — 18.0%

    Vancouver Canucks — 12.1%

    Vegas Golden Knights — 10.3%

    Arizona Coyotes — 10.3%

    New Jersey Devils — 8.5%

    Buffalo Sabres — 7.6%

    Detroit Red Wings — 6.7%

    Dallas Stars — 5.8%

    Florida Panthers — 5.4%

    Los Angeles Kings — 4.5%

    Carolina Hurricanes — 3.2%

    Winnipeg Jets — 2.7%

    Philadelphia Flyers — 2.2%

    Tampa Bay Lightning 1.8%

    New York Islanders — 0.9%

    The NHL draft will be held on Friday, June 23 (first round) and Saturday, June 24 (rounds two through seven) at United Center in Chicago.

    Paul Carey replaces Brett Connolly for Capitals in Game 2

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    After dropping Game 1 of their second-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night, the Washington Capitals are making a minor lineup change on Saturday for Game 2 of the series when Paul Carey replaces Brett Connolly on the team’s fourth line.

    Carey, 28, appeared in only six games for the Capitals this season and did not record a point. He has one goal and one assist in 32 career NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche and Capitals, and appeared in three playoff games for the Avalanche back in 2014.

    Given how Connolly’s ice time has been decreasing over the past few games this postseason it probably should not be too much of a surprise that he is now being removed from the lineup. After logging at least 10 minutes of ice time in each of the Capitals’ first three playoff games, he has not played more than 6:12 in each of the past four.

    Coach Barry Trotz said on Saturday that he likes Carey’s speed in the lineup against the faster Penguins.

    Connolly scored 15 goals in 66 regular season games for the Capitals this season.

    In other Capitals lineup news, there is no change in the status of defenseman Karl Alzner as he will remain out of the lineup. He has been sidelined since Game 3 of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs with an upper-body injury. Nate Schmidt will continue to take his place.

    Scott Darling trade ‘worth the risk’ for Hurricanes

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    The Carolina Hurricanes made a somewhat surprising move on Friday night when they acquired goaltender Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a third-round draft pick in 2017.

    On the surface it looks like a good move for both the team and the player. Goaltending has been a major thorn in the Hurricanes’ side for several years now, while Darling has probably earned the opportunity to be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL after performing extremely well as Corey Crawford‘s backup in Chicago.

    The risk for the Hurricanes is that Darling will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and they will have to get him signed to a new contract before then to avoid potentially losing him (and the third-round pick they sent to Chicago) for nothing.

    Shortly after the trade on Friday, Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said all of that was worth the risk because the team has accumulated so many draft picks in this year’s class.

    “This is a bit of a gamble but one we believed was worth taking,” Francis told Chip Alexander of the News & Observer. “This is why we accumulated these picks and we still have 10 left. It was worth the risk.”

    He added that they would “like to get something done sooner rather than later.”

    The duo of Cam Ward and Eddie Lack finished the 2016-17 season with a .901 save percentage, 26th in the NHL. The Hurricanes have finished higher than 25th just once in the past five years. The Hurricanes have solid young core of talent in place and a defense that allowed the fifth fewest shots on goal in the entire league this season. Solidifying the goaltending position would go a long way toward ending the team’s current eight year playoff drought.

     

    2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Saturday, April 29

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    The second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoff continues on Saturday with a pair of games on NBC.

    All of the action starts at 3 p.m. ET when the New York Rangers try to even their series against the Ottawa Senators. Later, the Pittsburgh Penguins look to take a 2-0 series lead against the Washington Capitals at 8 p.m. ET.

    Here is all of the information you need for today’s games.

    New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators

    Time: 3:00 p.m. ET

    Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)

    Announcers: John Forslund, Brian Boucher

    Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals

    Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

    Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)

    Announcers: Mike Emrick, Ed Olczyk, Pierre McGuire