During the long grind of an 82-game season, it’s often nice to get the kind of break the Atlanta Thrashers received this week, as the team’s schedule features a significant gap between their last game on Saturday and their upcoming contest on Thursday. Yet when you consider the crushing 8-2 loss the team suffered against the Buffalo Sabres, one would think that the Thrashers would have preferred back-to-back games to cleanse their palates.
Having a long time to languish in that defeat presents the latest problem for head coach Craig Ramsay in his up-and-down first year behind Atlanta’s bench. There are many ways a coach can react to such a dilemma – football great Bill Parcells was known for being tough on his team after a win, but relatively gentle following a defeat – so Chris Vivlamore asked Ramsay how he’s dealing with the problem.
Ramsay seems like he’s trying to find the right mix between providing “tough love” and not kicking his team while it’s down. Here’s an excerpt from Vivlamore’s Q & A with Ramsay after the Thrashers’ morning skate.
Q.How do you not let such a loss fester? With the NHL schedule you normally have a day or two between games. After this particularly bad loss you have five days before you play the Islanders on Thursday night.
A. That can make it much more difficult. As a coach you want to, perhaps, go out and skate them until, perhaps, they fall down. Or show video that is truly embarrassing. What I’ve tried to do is give them a good hard off-ice workout so I wasn’t involved. We are having an individual meeting that is short. I want them to understand that their accountability is to themselves and to their teammates, not just to me as a coach or the coaching staff. They have to hold themselves to a higher standard. That has to come from them. You can point them in the right direction but at the end of the day it has to be a standard, a very high standard, that’s within the dressing room.
Q.You were very candid after that loss with some pretty harsh words; were you trying to deliver a message or were you just speaking from the heart? What do you hope is the impact of those words?
A. You have to be very careful after a game, and you say things you don’t mean, so I try not to. Certainly for me to go into Buffalo at this time of year with a score like that is pretty disheartening. But it’s also something that you can build on. It’s something that you can use. It’s something that can be part of the growth of you as a person and you as a team. That you can take something that is a big negative and use it and understand it and grow with it.
To some extent, it seems like Ramsay accepts the fact that this season might be a learning experience more than anything else for this mostly young team. They seemed to overachieve in the early part of the season before falling apart badly in the second half. There’s reason for big picture optimism, even if their chances of making the playoffs are dim (but not totally gone yet).
But the chance for at least a single point slipped at the worst possible time, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:18 left in regulation and then set up an empty net goal from Marian Hossa just a few seconds later to secure the 4-2 win.
The Canucks remain stuck at five wins — just five wins — on the road. They have the 29th-ranked road record in the entire NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have been worse away from home ice. So, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed down the stretch.
Vancouver had a chance to move into a wild card spot. Instead, they let the Blackhawks regain momentum as the period went on, and as a result, they remain on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture for right now.
Corey Crawford earned his 200th career win, making 26 saves. That’s a milestone night for him. For Toews, that’s his most productive night of the season, as he factored into all four Chicago goals, which, of course, included the winner.
So overtime against the New York Islanders seemed like a perfect time for captain Claude Giroux to bust his scoring slump.
Without a goal in his last 12 games, or since Dec. 21 before the holiday break, Giroux finished the Flyers comeback with an overtime goal to give Philly a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Jakub Voracek did great work along the boards to force a turnover from John Tavares, and Shayne Gostisbehere followed up his chance with a quick pass to a wide-open Giroux at the top of the crease.
That comeback win — Philly trailed by two goals early in the second period — bumps the Flyers back into a wild card spot.
Steve Mason had a big game in net for Philly, with 36 saves, while the Flyers fired 47 shots on goal toward Thomas Greiss, although it’s a difficult task trying to re-set and stop Giroux — an accomplished scorer in the NHL — on the doorstep.
Goals, goals and more goals! Blue Jackets outlast Senators for overtime win
Plenty of goals. A little three-on-three overtime. Seemed like an enjoyable afternoon of hockey between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Well, maybe the goalies, Mike Condon and Joonas Korpisalo, didn’t enjoy it as much.
The Blue Jackets prevailed for a 7-6 overtime win, with Cam Atkinson scoring just 1:09 into the extra period. That’s his 23rd goal of the season. Only two players — Jeff Carter (24) and Sidney Crosby (28) — have scored more goals than Atkinson this season.
With the win, and the Capitals sitting idle today, the Blue Jackets move back into a tie with Washington at 68 points in the fight for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
There were some anxious moments for Columbus.
Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski was hurt blocking a shot in the third period. He briefly left the game, unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off.
The good news: He only missed a few minutes, returning late in regulation and for the overtime as well, which is important for the Blue Jackets.
#CBJ Zach Werenski said on @FOXSportsOH post-game he "thought it was broken" and "long term" injury when he blocked the shot.
“He’s made a couple of huge mistakes in a game and he comes to the bench, shakes it off and then goes out and makes a great play. For a 19-year-old playing that position and the amount of time he’s getting in key situations with this organization, it’s pretty impressive.”