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Thrashed in Atlanta: Florida loses to Truck Stop Thrashers

Bus ATLANTA – The Thrashers had plenty of built in excuses for a poor performance on Saturday night.

Thanks to the monster snow storm that hit the east coast, the team was stuck in Washington  D.C. after Friday’s game.

The Thrashers spent almost six hours on a bus to Virginia before finally flying to Atlanta, arriving at their rink less than two hours before playing the Panthers.

Florida coach Pete DeBoer knew the Thrashers might use their predicament as a rallying point.

Sometimes, DeBoer must hate being right.

After falling behind by two goals in the opening period, the Thrashers came from behind to beat the Panthers 4-2 in front of a raucous crowd at Philips Arena. Saturday’s game was postponed almost an hour to allow the Thrashers more time to get to the arena.

“We’ll be making a mistake if we think this gives us any sort of advantage,’’ DeBoer said before the game. “I’ve seen teams in this situation play like they have nothing to lose.’’

After the game, DeBoer said it really didn’t matter that the Thrashers were put in a bind because at least that team was healthy. The Panthers were playing without leading scorers Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton because of injuries, and the team continues to struggle offensively.

Florida held a 2-0 lead after Radek Dvorak broke his 15 game goal-less streak by beating Johan Hedberg twice within an 11 minute span. But the Thrashers came charging in the second and dominated the period, tying it up on a pair of goals. Atlanta then added two more in the final 4:26.

“We don’t have Weiss or Horton in the lineup and they have a good team with a full lineup,’’ DeBoer said angrily. “I thought we played much better than we did at home [Friday]. But you have to give them some credit. I don’t think it was anything we were overly poor at. They worked hard and we couldn’t keep up.

“It has nothing to do with travel. They have a young team with good legs. They skated. Yeah, they out-skated us in the second and third periods. But we’re short guys. Our effort was there. We didn’t finish some of the opportunities we had.’’

The Panthers goal woes continued as the team now has 12 goals in their past 10 games. Florida got a power play goal in Friday’s lackluster loss to the Flames, but went 0-for-7 on the power play Saturday.

Not long after the Panthers failed to convert on their final power play chance of the night, Niclas Bergfors -- playing in his first home game since coming over in the Ilya Kovalchuk blockbuster deal on Thursday -- netted the game winner by scoring with 4:26 left.

Evander Kane was awarded an empty net goal after fellow rookie Dmitry Kulikov threw his stick in the way of the puck on a breakaway.

The Panthers have lost three straight, scoring a total of three goals in those games.

“You can’t make excuses anymore,’’ David Booth said. “You have to be ready to play every night, especially against a team with some travel problems. You have to finish a team off when up by two goals. We have to start doing that. I’ve been saying that, it seems, ever since I’ve been here.’’


General manager Randy Sexton said he has had numerous talks with other GMs around the league regarding possible deals but the Panthers weren’t actively working on a trade.

“Are we happy where we are? No,’’ Sexton said. “But we need to get on track. But, I’m going to try and make some moves between now and the deadline if we can. It takes two to tango. If we can find a dance partner, we’ll try to make ourselves better.’’

(*) Sexton added that there was little talk about postponing Saturday’s game once it became apparent the Thrashers would be able to fly home in the late afternoon.

The Thrashers spent much of the day traveling – either by bus to Richmond, Va., or in their air charter. The team’s equipment arrived at the arena around 6:10 p.m.

 (*) Center Stephen Weiss missed his second game since Jan. 18 with what DeBoer called a nagging injury. Weiss got hit hard in the first period of Friday’s game against the Flames but continued on. Weiss is on the trip and could return Tuesday against the Hurricanes in Raleigh.

Nick Tarnasky replaced Weiss in the lineup but didn’t see much time. He took a 10 minute misconduct in the second period.

(*) Defenseman Keaton Ellerby was recalled from Florida’s AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., to fill in for Bryan Allen. Allen is expected to return on Tuesday.

(*) Saturday was Atlanta’s final home game until after the Olympic break. The Thrashers next home game? March 2 against the Panthers.



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Don't fret---the Cats will have a six-seven game winning streak in the last few weeks. Just in time to claw our way to 9th place again with the same cast of characters and no chances at an early pick.

I know Sexton says it takes 2 to tango, but the impression that I get is that he is more of a wall flower and not much of a dancer..........accountability.......(criskets chirp)....(fade to black)

“It has nothing to do with travel. They have a young team with good legs. They skated. Yeah, they out-skated us in the second and third periods. But we’re short guys. Our effort was there. We didn’t finish some of the opportunities we had."

That's embarrassing. I'm sorry Pete, I've been on your side most of this season. But this isn't the time of year to pat yourself on the back for a good try. We're short guys? They were on a bus all day! You were making excuses before they were even in the building! Horton and Weiss are out, fine. You got Booth back, Frolik has been nonexistant the last few months. Stillman is a placeholder and Rheinprecht hasn't done anything since October. Olesz couldn't hit a soccer net. Where's our captain been? McCabe scored twice against Toronto way back when and since then... nothing. No leadership. No accountability. Nothing.

Stop acting like "good efforts" are enough and put guys on notice. Bench Frolik. Sit Olesz. Good tries and missed chances aren't enough. McArdle, Oreskovich, Taffe, Repik, Matthias. Those guys WORK for their chances, and they've got as much chance of scoring as anyone else on this team lately. Stop accepting mediocrity. This team isn't winning with what it has on the ice, why not piss some people off and make them ride the pine. You already don't play Tarnasky or Repik when they do dress. What's the worst that happens, we lose a couple more games with a line full of AHLers? Guess what, we already are.

Sorry for the rant... it's been a tough week.

I agree Karl. The AHLers are more fun to watch and WORK. McArdle and Oreskovich should be the future of our team. They have the grit we need.

I also agree with Deboer's frustration 2 days ago. Why the sudden 180 with excuses?! Against a Kovalchuk-less team that traveled for the last 20 hours.......hmmmm. Can't wait to hear it all over again on Tuesday!

By the way GR, love the picture at the top. Two more lines for Moller: "O'Doyle RULES!" and "THANK YOU MISS LIPPY!!".....not to mention, "That Miss Vaughn is a fiiiine piece of Aaaaacshhhhh!"

Somebody's going to go -- my guess is Olesz, but who knows? It has to be someone that is valued by another team -- but despite Frolik's disappearance, I think it would be a mistake to give up on a 2nd year player that scored 20 goals for you in his rookie season. Don't expect any blockbuster deal, it will be our underachieving player(s) for somebody else's. But a message has to be sent that if you don't produce, you're at risk. It could even be a veteran like Stillman, even though he's played better than several other guys. But a team might want to add experience for a playoff run.

I think the playoff expectations are gone for this team, when even on their website..They are stating they need to win 2 out of 3 games throughout the season. Hence, the callout for season ticket holders to renew quickly last month....Panthers will be selling at the trade deadline for more picks or prospects.

Panthers should try to address the holes in Rochester (lack of scoring by our current draft picks) and with their NHL team in Florida. Offensive help is this team's greatest needs all around the board. Bad scouting and bad GM picks have killed the Panthers depth in both NHL and AHL in offensive scoring help. Plenty of good defenseman/and goalies but there are no snipers or scorers.

F. I. R. E. S. E. X. T. O. N

excuses are for losers, welcome to the last 10 years of panthers hockey.

we don't have any finishers, we don't have any forwards willing to pay the price and we have a general manager that thinks we have talent and says he is not working on any trades

no playoffs for ten years, no depth in the organization.

blow it up it can't be any worse clean house in the front office, scouting and get someone to run the hockey side that knows hockey and talent

We're going nowhere. Should that surprise anyone ! It's been that way for over 10 yrs. Just look at the teams that were poor one yr. made some moves & became playoff ready. Not our Panthers ! Instead of getting better we continue to get worse.

Poor Deboer, good coach, poor players. Give the man something to work with.

First suggestion hire a GM that isn't afraid to pull the trigger. Seems like we only have a puppet in there right now.

What happened to Bill Torrey's GM search ? I can't imagin he recommened the current GM.

How about M Ryder from Boston? I know contract to big!

Waiting to see.............

It's time to accept we're not going to be 10 games over .500 like DB said we need to be to make the playoffs. It's not happening. We have a bunch of 3rd/4th liners that are UFAs/RFAs deals: Moore, Campbell, Kreps & then maybe make a statement by trading Stillman or Rhino.

I really believe this team needs to be overhauled. It cannot make the playoffs with this "core" group. You have a good (not great) line in Booth-Horton-Weiss and Frolik is still a blossoming talent despite his sophomore slump. Other than that, there's no impact maker. Dvo is what he is - a really good defensive forward that will net you 15 goals, and we need more of that. What we don't need is Campbell/Kreps and their 2 goals combined. I say give the AHLers a chance to do some dirty work. I'd like to see more of Repik, Taffe & maybe Matthias in particular.

This team is going to do what it always does. Horton will come back after the break and it'll make a run just enough to get us out of a top 10 draft pick and into 9-10th place.

Sexton has to be joking about needing 2 to tango. The problem is the assets, something our organization lacks in top end talent. The few we do have (Ellerby, Markstrom, etc.) we really can't afford to lose b/c we're not deep in the farm. So we're kind of stuck with very little to bargain with. Where this team fails miserably is free agency. We can't supplement our core through FA b/c we can only sign castoffs or older guys that play a secondary role. I really though Rhino would have brought balance to the 2nd line, but he has been a major disappoint. He isn't scoring, isn't creating scoring chances, nothing. Stillman isn't going to score 30 goals either, that's unreasonable. Olesz has been so frustrating with his lack of consistency. Then Dvo is the only guy who is over 10 goals in our bottom 6. (I know Dvo and Olesz have been interchangeable on the 2nd line). So basically Sexton has failed to field a competitive team other than our top line.

It is time to shake things up and realize this team won't be a competitive playoff team. Sell off what you can, and realize it's time to rebuild around Weiss-Horton-Frolik-Booth.

Take away all the players golf clubs until they score a goal maybe then we'll see some desperation? The excuses are pathetically old. Gee Carolina, Vancouver, and an 1 goal a game average...ouch 0 - 5 at the Olympic Break..Quick renew your tickets for next year because the seats might not be available! I think the free tickets aren't even being used anymore..

Joe- your no Schmoe.......Well said, couldn't agree with you more ...

Players like Olesz, Allen, did not produce what they were supposed to do. Agreed Kreps and Campbell are not NHL quality players. Our payroll is high for what is produced. If a trade was to be made it should have been made two or three weeks ago. Sexton has not made a trade all season--nothing has been done to shake the lineup whatsoever. Deboer is a good coach despite the losing. Everyone thinks getting rid of the coach will change everything--not this time. We can only hope as Panther fans that one or two things happen-A-Sexton finally makes a trade to help the team or B hope the bottom fall out and get a top 5 pick.(they would still draft a stiff-after all it's the Panthers) Keep Seidenberg for sure!!!

Bring up the kids=they could not do any worse than the present bunch.Cement Olesz on the 4th line as a defensive forward.We have no tradeable assets except Booth,Horton,Weiss,and Frolik.This is a total mess that is not DeBoers fault.I really think that Yormark calls alot of these bad shots behind the scenes.The Koistenen signing was his deal to appease the NHL and get a bigger share of the gate in Finland.This true blue offer to season ticket holder was his idea-instead of spending money by giving season ticket holders a bag or jacket as they have done the previous years they insult us with extra worthless tickets that they could not sell anyway.Deception and Hucksterism at its best!

True disappointment, For a while a couple pf weeks ago it looked like finally things were going in the right direction, I saw Calgary a couple of games before the big trade and they were a mess, they just traded 3/4 of the team and still they are able to beat the panthers, Atlanta without the guy Kovi, he had our number and this game were sure 2 points for us, how can we not beat these 2 teams that are a mess right now, I could go back to the game in Columbus where we got shutout 0-3, and then Columbus was a mess and still a mess.
The reality is that we are not good enough, we look like a sure 9-10th spot and even Carolina can come from behind and overtake the 10th spot.
Just awful !! no excuses

don't blame DeBoer he was giving a donkey to try and win the triple crown, won't happen.

Blame the front office

it is time the new ownership put actions where their mouths are and show the fans you are interested in winning clean out the front office, from Yormark, to Sexton to the scouting staff

other than DeBoer who has done a lot with nothing, everyone elses jobs should be on the line

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