Since Sunday, when I blogged about the fact that the Thrashers' chances of making the playoffs were very bleak, they've taken maximum points in two games (including a win over the #4 seed Rangers) while the Canadiens have taken one point in their last two. As a result, the Thrashers are now only one point behind the Canadiens, although the Habs have two games in hand. Tampa sits four ahead of the Thrash with a game in hand, but they are about to embark on a four-game trip to Ottawa, Buffalo, Toronto, and Montreal, so they might be coming down as well. So since it was clearly my profession of pessimism that led the team to narrow the gap between it and eighth place, I'll have to keep saying over and over again that the Thrash aren't going to the playoffs this year.
I hate simplistic explanations of why teams win or lose, but it's hard to get past goaltending with the Thrash. (If anyone knows of a hockey equivalent of the Baseball Prospectus that uses all sorts of space age stats with long acronyms like PECOTA to explain why all of my neanderthalic notions are wrong, please let me know. Speaking of which, my copy of the BP arrived on Tuesday, which, along with getting my bonus for the year, Barca knocking out Chelsea, and the Hawks reaching 20 wins, made it a great day. A book report is forthcoming.) They were winless in shootouts before Lehtonen's groin healed (BLGH) and they're unbeaten in shootouts since that blessed event (ALGH). The Thrashers' season can neatly be divided into those two epochs, with the somewhat inexplicable lapse that ended right before the Olympic break standing as an exception. (Maybe Kari was banged up?) It makes me feel good that if the Thrashers can somehow pull even in the 8th spot, they'll have the advantage going down the stretch, as long as they don't get complacent at that stage and stop playing as hard once the arrears have been eliminated. Wait, I forgot that I need to be pessimistic. Waddell sucks! Hartley sucks! Ilya plays no defense! Slowdry will ruin everything! Lehtonen's groin is a ticking time bomb!