The Atlanta Thrashers continued to make things interesting, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2, to move within a point of the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta, which lost six games in eight days a week ago, won three straight games for the first time since Nov. 25-30.
Let’s break down this Saturday night special.
1) Back-to-back, jack. The Thrashers dominated the Flyers on the scoreboard and with their fists on Saturday en route to their third straight win against Philadelphia.
That 14 game losing streak to the Flyers seems like a distant memory.
The two teams will finish the four-game set on Sunday at the Wachovia Center.
2) Boulton in the box. Forward Eric Boulton was one of those players mixing it up on Saturday, sparring with Ian Lapierriere in the first period. Boulton, who was given a five minute major on the play, set a franchise record with 536 penalty minutes. He bested Jeff Odgers’ mark of 532 minutes in the sin bin.
“It’s kind of cool,” Boulton said of the achievement.
3) Army of goals. Colby Armstrong posted his second straight two-goal game for the Thrashers. The 27-year-old Armstrong has five points (four goals and one assist) in his last two games. He has 15 goals on the season.
4) Mooose. Johan Hedberg set aside 25 shots on Saturday en route to notching his third straight win. It was the fourth time this season that Hedberg has posted three straight victories. He also picked up a trio of wins in a row on Nov. 8-Nov. 15, Nov. 28-Dec. 5 and Feb. 12-Mar. 4.
5) The March to the playoffs. Atlanta’s playoff hopes looked better with the win. The club moved within a point of the Bruins in the Eastern Conference and within six points of fifth. Atlanta could find itself all alone in the eighth spot if Boston suffers a regulation loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday and the Thrashers beat the Flyers.
Boston and Atlanta play each other on Tuesday at Philips Arena.
Here are your up-to-date playoff standings. Note, that I have added a new column A/PO, or average points of opponents. This is an indicator of how difficult the road is ahead for a playoff bound team. For you math geeks, I added up the points of every team’s opponents and divided it by the number of games they had left.
As you can see, the Thrashers have the toughest road to the playoffs, facing opponents with an average of 81.55 points, including a pair of tilts against the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Boston has the second toughest schedule. The Rangers have the easiest route to the playoffs – on paper at least.
L ATL 5, PHI 2
vs. ATL, Sunday
L TOR 3, MON 2 SO
vs. OTW, Monday
L DAL 5, OTW 4
at MON, Monday
vs. NYR, Sunday
W ATL 5, PHI 2
at PHI, Sunday
at BOS, Sunday
L WAS 3, TB 1
at FLA, Sunday
L LAK 1, NYI 0
at NYR, Wednesday
W CAR 3, PIT 2 OT
vs. BUF, Sunday
L BUF 3, FLA 1
vs. TB, Sunday
Quote of the Day – Nik Antropov on the Thrashers upcoming matchup with the Bruins: “Tomorrow, we play against Philadelphia. That’s what our mindset is right now. We’ll prepare for (Boston) after tomorrow.”