Thrashers Game Day: The Return of Anssi Salmela

45-26-7; 97 Pts. 34-32-13; 81 Pts.

Ok, ok, I kid.  Anssi is scratched tonight.  Some other guy, Ilya something or another is coming back, and there’s this big to-do about it.

Frankly, I care more about the points at stake.  If we lose and the Flyers win, we’re done.  The way that our luck has been running recently, I’m bracing myself for the worst – especially after we lost a point against the Penguins and then the Flyers managed to beat the Red Wings.  But hey, anything can happen, right?  We’re 1-2-0 against the Devils this year, and Brodeur has been atrocious.  And yes, I’m choosing to ignore that 5-4 loss in December at home where we chased Marty and still managed to lose.  Damn.  Stopped ignoring that.

Anywho, Little and Kubina will be game time decisions; the scratches are Koz and White, and of course Army’s still out. Praise God, Arty’s back.  Hopefully Kubina will be good to go.  Nothing against Chelios, but he looks sluggish out there – Kubina’s much more of an asset with Enstrom than Cheli is.

Kovalchuk is ready for the boos when he comes back tonight.  His teammates, though, hope that the fans stay polite.  Johan Hedberg had this to say:

“I hope they’re going to give him the respect that he deserves,” goaltender Johan Hedberg said after the team’s practice this morning in Duluth. Ga. “Hopefully it’s going to be a good night respect-wise and they’ll cheer for him. He did a lot of things for this organization for a lot of years, so he deserves nothing else but credit. Hopefully we’ll be happy (with a win) when the night is over, but it’s going to be a special night for him anyway.”

Honestly, you’d be hard pressed to find Hedberg say a bad word about anyone, but I agree with the Moose on this.  Why bother to boo?  Seriously.  I’ve never been a booer of former players.  Heatley leaving I understood, and I think that Ottawa and Edmonton have more reasons to boo than we do.  Savard said that the management was a clusterfark – well, no kidding.  Hossa said he liked it here, but he wanted to play on a contender – again, I can understand the Pens’ bitterness more than our fans.  Heck, even Garnet Exelby, who still lives here and works out with the guys during the off-seasons, said that it was kind of cool to be in a city where fans show up.  Novel concept.  No one who has left has ever said anything untoward about the fans in Atlanta or the city, and what they’ve said about the organization has been the truth.

My only caveat with Kovalchuk is his continued statements of “I want to be a Thrasher for life” and things of that vein.  To say that, and then to turn down the massive amount of money that he was offered, does look greedy and obnoxious, especially in a year as positive as this one has been.  But, I view it as this – it’s his loss.  We have Little, Enstrom, Kane, Bogosian, and now Bergfors to build on, and Kovalchuk?  Who knows where he’ll be next season.  The Devils and Thrashers have basically the same record since the trade (10-8-5 and 10-9-5, respectively), which to me strengthens the argument that he really isn’t that much of a game-changer.

Please to be seeing my buddy SpaceWeed’s blog North of Hell for tonight’s matchup from a Devils’ perspective.  Also, there’s my fellow Bloguin partner in crime Running With the Devils.  Stop by and wave.

Tonight’s goaltenders, from

Martin Brodeur Johan Hedberg
Season against Atlanta Season against New Jersey
1-1-0; 3.89 GAA, .824 SV% 0-1-0; 3.06 GAA, .885 SV%

About Laura Astorian

Laura Astorian is the head editor for the SB Nation blog St. Louis Game Time and has been a Blues fan from childhood. She promises that any anti-Blackhawks bias will be left at the door. Maybe.