The Atlanta Thrashers have only made the playoffs once in their brief existence. They were quickly swept without much of a fight by the Rangers in the ’06-’07 playoffs. It was their only division title. The Atlanta Flames did not fare much better during their similarly short existence between 1972 and 1980.
But this season the Thrashers have made some noise by going on extended winnings streaks, beating some of the top teams, winning on the road, and playing some absolutely stifling defense. The Thrashers should continue to push Washington and Tampa Bay for the Southeast Division title, and (if they can stay healthy) have a solid opportunity to make the playoffs. If they get the right match-up and great goaltending, they could certainly score a first round upset.
Craig Ramsay has been doing a heck of a job as head coach in his first year on the job, but part of me thinks the Thrashers have been playing over their heads and will come crashing back down to mediocrity. Byfuglien is somehow a Norris Trophy candidate, and Pavelec has a bright future between the pipes for the Thrashers, but can the rest of the team continue with their timely contributions? Ten goals already from Stewart, five goals from Boulton, Burmistrov with two game winning goals; these are only a few of the Thrashers over achieving contributors. I would love to see Atlanta make a trade to sure up their top six forwards, but somehow I do not think the cavalry is coming.
Lame publicity stunts aside, the people of Atlanta have not seemed to take much note of the Threashers’ rising tide. If the fans cannot get excited about an up-and-coming young team, what will get them excited? I know the NHL loves sticking with their teams in non-traditional hockey markets, and moving every team to Canada is not the answer, but Atlanta just might not be the right spot for an NHL team. And please dump those horrendously atrocious uniforms. They scream minor league.