NHL: Florida Panthers at Atlanta Thrashers Preview & Picks Print
Written by Anthony Rome   
Tuesday, 13 November 2007 02:58
NHL Headline News

Change Is Good

The Atlanta Thrashers have been a much better team since making a coaching change. Their play at home against the Florida Panthers has never been a problem regardless of who's been behind the bench.

The Thrashers seek their 11th consecutive home win over the Panthers on Tuesday night when the Southeast Division rivals meet for the second time in five days.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Atlanta -154 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 6 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 55% of bets for this game have been placed on Atlanta -154 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

An 0-6 start prompted the Thrashers to fire Bob Hartley on Oct. 17. The team has responded to general manager Don Waddell, who took over behind the bench. Atlanta is 7-4-0 under Waddell, averaging 3.2 goals per game after scoring nine total goals during the six season-opening defeats.

However, the Thrashers (7-10-0) saw their season-best three-game winning streak snapped Saturday with a 5-3 home loss to Carolina despite two goals from Marian Hossa.

Hossa had his second straight two-point game after he had a goal and an assist in Friday's 4-1 victory at Florida. He has four goals and three assists in his last five games after going pointless in his previous five contests.

Friday's win improved the Thrashers to 7-1-1 in their last nine meetings with the Panthers. They have also won 10 straight - one in a shootout - at home in the series since a 3-2 loss on Oct. 25, 2003.

Star left wing Ilya Kovalchuk was held without a goal Saturday, ending a run of four straight games in which he'd scored at least once. He still has eight goals in his last five games and leads the NHL with 14 on the season.

Kovalchuk had a goal and an assist against the Panthers on Friday, giving him eight goals and four assists in his last eight games against them.

Rookie goaltender Ondrej Pavelec stopped 34 shots Saturday but lost for the first time in four starts. He'd allowed one goal in each of his last two victories - over Washington and Florida.

Poor penalty killing remains a problem for the Thrashers, who rank last in the NHL in that department at 70.6 percent. That could be a cause for concern against Florida, which has one of the league's best power plays, converting 22.3 percent (17-of-76) of its opportunities.

The Panthers (7-11-0), though, failed to score in two chances with the man advantage Monday and suffered their third straight loss, 4-3 to Carolina.

Jozef Stumpel, Stephen Weiss and David Booth scored at even strength for the Panthers, whose seven regulation road losses are tied with Tampa Bay for the most in the NHL.

"I thought we battled hard and we probably deserved a better fate,'' Florida coach Jacques Martin said. "I think the key is to play hard like this every night and you will win your share of games.''

Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun is 0-4-1 with a 2.78 goals-against average in his last five starts against Atlanta. With games on back-to-back nights, though, backup Craig Anderson could make his first appearance since Oct. 18.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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