In an effort to bring you something a little bit different, I had a chance to catch up with The Falconer from Bird Watchers Anonymous and ask him what we should expect from the Atlanta Thrashers tonight.
Q1. What has been a pleasant surprise for the Thrashers so far this season?
Former Sabre Eric Boulton scored a point in his first two games, but I would say Evander Kane tops that. I argued he should go back to juniors during Training Camp, but so far he has his first NHL goal and NHL assist and is getting significant minutes on the PK with no PK Goals Against.
Q2. What has been an unpleasant surprise for the Thrashers this season?
The Thrashers added a lot of size this summer to help them win more battles in the trenches. The team appears to be playing more minutes in the opposition but so far that has not helped their shot differential much. The team is off to a decent start (2-1) but has been outshot by a sizable margin thus far.
Q3. Last season Atlanta beat Buffalo all four times they played. Ironically all four games ended in overtime or a shootout. Why do you think the Thrashers had so much success against the Sabres last season?
I think the Sabres skilled forwards enjoy trading chances--which suits the Thrashers style under Coach Anderson.
Q4. I'd be remiss if I didn't ask your thoughts on ex-Sabres forward Maxim Afinogenov. Whether fair or unfair, he became a wipping boy for the fans and media in Buffalo last season. I know it's only been a few games but what are your thoughts on "Mad Max" so far?
To be honest, I have very modest expectations for Afinogenov. So far he's had some exciting dashes up the ice with no goals to show for it. His line is the only line not to score an Even Strength goal so far. On the positive side, no silly turnovers--so he's moving the puck in the right direction.
Q5. The Sabres will obviously have to be aware of Ilya Kovalchuk when he is on the ice. Other than Kovalchuk, what player/players should the Sabres be most worried about?
Rich Peverley has been red hot while centering the 3rd line. He was a nearly a point-per-game in the 2nd half of last season after Atlanta claimed him from waivers. I was skeptical he could replicate that success but so far he has. The man has very good hands and uses them to create more time and space for himself. He has a very accurate shot in tight around the net.