A somewhat different roster, but same result. The Thrashers had another shutout victory at the Traverse City tournament today, this time over the NY Rangers 3-0. Free-agent invitee Ryan Daniels made 23 saves in net.
Alternate captain Grant Lewis said that Wolves head coach Don Granato has been stressing hard work and doing simple plays. He didn't throw a lot of systems at them to start because he didn't want to wear them out mentally. The players seem to have taken to him right away. "I can tell he's gonna be great (in Chicago)," Lewis said.
Coach Jeff Pyle said that he knew he was making a bold statement, but that this Thrashers team is working harder than any team he's been involved with. It's a true team effort, and very fun to watch everyone coming together.
Posting two shutouts, the team is obviously solid defensively. Pyle said they aren't giving up any odd-man rushes, just playing solid two-way hockey.
On the first goal today, Tomas Pospisil had a takeaway in the slot, then beat goalie Antoine Lafleur five-hole. On the second goal, Riley Holzapfel had the puck at the halfwall, which was one-timed by Postma on net for a rebound to Angelo Esposito who put it in. On the third goal, Spencer Machacek had a takeaway, then drove to the net and jammed the puck in on his own rebound. Pyle commented on how hard Machacek works -- "he's solid, physical, and has a great work ethic," he said.
Today's power-play goal was the first time the team got anything set up on the power play in the tournament. The first day they didn't really implement a strategy on the power play. Lewis said that after a day of practice, with coach Pyle helping with the power play, they had a plan and that plan worked. They overloaded on one side like they do in Gwinnett, using a guy on the half wall to buy some time and space for the defenseman up top. They are getting six or seven shots a game from the defensemen, a decent amount, but Lewis said maybe they were actually working it too much. The defensemen used on the power play have been switching up a lot, with five getting time there today. Meanwhile, players like Matt Siddall have been camping out in the slot.
Danick Paquette, injured in the first game, did not return for Sunday's. It may be a bruised hip or hamstring pull for him. Defenseman Zach Bogosian also did not skate. He has a strain in his calf, nothing serious. The team wanted to sit him out to be on the safe side. Invitee Patrick Cusack played in his place.
The injuries aren't contained to Paquette and Bogosian either -- the team is a little banged up overall. On questioning of what he would do on his off day, Lewis admitted that he has a broken toe which he'll be resting. It happened in Game 1, blocking a shot from the point at the end of the game to preserve the shutout. It's broken pretty badly, despite brand new skates, but Lewis was told that he could skate on it as long as he could stand the pain. It's his right ring toe, next to the pinky. He said that with Bogosian out, he needed to play. He didn't regret blocking the shot, it needed to be done.
The camaraderie on the team is leading to good results, with the team now up 2-0 in the tournament.
There were two fights in the game, Myles Stoesz vs. Jordan Soryal and Matt Siddall vs. Dave Weise. Both ended in draws, with all combatants getting punches in, but no one the advantage. Siddall fell at the end of his fight. The Rangers were the ones getting this stuff started, Lewis confirmed. The Thrashers were winning and didn't need to get anything going.
The ice at the venue is choppy at the end of games due to the amount of traffic it's seeing each day -- several practices and two games. The games are a little sloppy because of it.
Monday the team has practice, but no game. On Tuesday, they play the Detroit Red Wings at 7pm.