Barring a setback during warmups tonight it looks like the Thrashers will have captain Andrew Ladd back in the lineup tonight when the Thrashers host the Capitals in the final game before the All-Star break.
Ladd missed Sunday’s game in Tampa with a lower body injury but looked fine during the morning skate today. Assuming he plays he will be back on a line with Rich Peverley and Niclas Bergfors. That pushes Freddy Modin down a few lines and may lead to Nigel Dawes being the odd man out. During drills Modin and Dawes alternated on a line with Tim Stapleton in the middle and Nik Antropov on the right wing. The other two lines remained unchanged from Sunday with Patrice Cormier and Anthony Stewart centered by Bryan Little and Alex Burmistrov in between Eric Boulton and Chris Thorburn.
the two common themes in the locker room today are how important it is to go into the break on a high note (and in a playoff spot) and how well the Thrashers have played against the Capitals.
“Washington is a tough team and we’ve played well against them this year,” said Bryan Little. “It’s all about getting the two points. They’d be nice to have going into the break with the standings so tight. ”
“We want to enjoy our break and we want to get a win” added Rich Peverley. “It’s about getting two points right now and staying above that eighth spot and keeping the teams below us below us.”
Peverley also chimed in on what the key has been to going 3-1-1 against the Capitals this season.
“I think we’ve worked hard and played a full 60 minutes most times we’ve played them. It’s about when you work that hard you frustrate them and we have to continue to do that tonight.”
The Thrashers will be without Caps killer Evander Kane who has five goals in five games against Washington this season but he should be back after the break. He’ll spend the second period of tonight’s game in the radio booth with Dan Kamal as a guest commentator on 680 The Fan’s radio feed.
On the backend the thrashers will go with the only six healthy defensemen on the roster now that Toby Enstrom is officially out for a few weeks with a fractured finger. Dustin Byfuglien didn’t skate this morning but will play tonight against Washington. Ondrej Pavelec will get the start in goal as expected.
Stay tuned for video from Craig Ramsay, Zach Bogosian and Ondrej Pavelec. Ramsay’s answer for why the Thrashers play so well against the Capitals is fantastic. You’ll want to see it straight from his mouth.
It’s hard to believe that after tonight the Thrashers will be finished with both the Lightning and Capitals for the remainder of the regular season, but that is indeed the case. Atlanta played their sixth game against Tampa on Sunday and play their sixth versus Washington tonight.
A win tonight guarantees them a playoff spot heading into the All-Star break. Anything less and they’d need some help from the Islanders who are playing the Hurricanes. Carolina is just a point behind the Thrashers and have more wins so they’d hold the tie-breaker. With the Canes hosting the All-Star Game passing the Thrashers tonight would be a huge boost for them, so the Thrashers better be ready against the Caps.