Opponent with a marquee name. Check. Eight goals in regulation. Check. Six-round shootout. Check. Home team wins. Check. Stereotypically apathetic professional sports market. Check. All of that in the American southeast. Check and mate!
Atlanta 5, New York Rangers 4 in a shootout. Yup, Gary Bettman’s dream for the New NHL was fully evident tonight.
Except the announced attendance was 13,157. And from watching on TV between periods in the Calgary game, I’d wager a good 35 to 40 percent of those were no-shows. I mean, Philips Arena looked like what a ghost would scribble down if you asked him to draw a ghost town. There was NO ONE in the building. And I’m judging that on the basis of other Thrashers games I’ve watched this year, so that’s SAYING something.
Last Sunday on Puck Daddy I noted that the Thrashers are really pushing hard to get the paid attendance up to an average of 14,000 so they could get some revenue-sharing money. Can’t imagine that campaign is going especially well, eh?
I’m not saying people should be lining up around the block to watch a Thrashers-Rangers game that means exactly zero in the grand scheme of things; the Rangers have a playoff spot all but locked up much to my chagrin, the Thrashers have nothing to play for, and Atlanta wouldn’t care about the Thrashers if Andre 3000 was asked to quarterback the power play (and don’t think they haven’t kicked that idea around the front office).
I just figure that, if *I* ran the Thrashers and *I* needed paid attendance to go through the roof in my remaining six home games or whatever, I’d start selling tickets for 50 cents a pop and offer a $1 cash back reward for each ticket purchased. Who cares at that point? Defrauding the NHL is the least of that team’s worries. Todd White’s on their top line for chrissakes.
Florida 4, Philadelphia 2
If that Atlanta score was the first of tonight’s wacky results, this is the second. The Panthers hadn’t turned in a good performance in what feels like a month and a half, and they go into Philly and steal a win (they were outshot 42-28). Tonight’s unsurprising fact about a game featuring the Flyers: there was a fight three seconds into the game.
Columbus 5, Calgary 0
Funny story, by the way. Columbus didn’t even look good. And they won by five and Steve Mason got another shutout. Calgary is now 2-8-1 in the second game of back-to-backs. And they have three left this season. Oh yeah, that’ll go real well.
Montreal 3, Tampa Bay 2 (OT)
That right there is a bona fide winning streak for the Habs. They might sneak into the playoffs and get absolutely f’n demolished in the first round after all. What an accomplishment.
Nashville 3, San Jose 2
The Sharks led 2-0 and I went to make a sandwich (a nice turkey on toast with some onions and tomato, brown mustard and a small bit of horse radish. High recommend on that sandwich, by the by). I came back and found that the score was 3-2 to the Predators. They scored three goals in 2:38 midway through the second. Nashville has now taken five of eight possible points from San Jose this year. Go figure.
St. Louis 4, Vancouver 2
While the Flames were busy getting shutout two nights in a row, the Canucks had an excellent opportunity to climb within a point of the lead in the Northwest. Instead they lost to the Blues, who are tied with Edmonton one point out of a playoff spot behind both Anaheim and Nashville. Minnesota’s a point back of Edmonton and St. Louis. They’ve all played 74 games. These last eight are going to be nutso.
Los Angeles 1, Dallas 0 (SO)
Marty Turco and Jon Quick stopped 59 combined shots in regulation, then gave up goals on three of six chances in the shootout. Justin Williams scored the shootout winner.
Phoenix 3, Edmonton 2
Free tip for the Oilers: When you’re in the thick of the one-point battle for a playoff spot detailed above, you should probably try to beat the third-worst team in the NHL. Just sayin’. Granted, you guys scored two goals in 43 seconds in the third period, but it helps to not be down 3-0 when something like that happens. Y’know. If you wanna win.