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Up next: Ilya Kovalchuk (and his trade rumors), Nik Antropov and the Atlanta Thrashers

[SBN Atlanta Thrashers blog - Birdwatcher's Anonymous]

Record: 18-7-6 (9th in the East)

Top scorers: Ilya Kovalchuk (25g, 22a), Maxim Afinogenov (15g, 24a), Nik Antropov (11g, 25a)

If there's one thing the Penguins and Thrashers have in common heading into tonight's match it's that they are both trying to skate through a rough patch.  As I'm sure you know by now, the Pens have dropped five-straight games, salvaging zero points over the past week. 

As for Atlanta, well, over the past 10 games ATL has managed only one win, and even that one came in overtime.  They have, however, tallied three pity points along the way, putting the ten-game total at five.  The past two outings have at least awarded them with a point in each effort, so I guess the Thrashers are doing slightly better in terms of recent action.  Emphasis on slightly.

It's funny in a way, because ever since the Thrashers released their "halfway home" ticket packages, a midseason ticket deal that includes guaranteed seats for the playoffs, they've won only one game.  I guess they jumped the gun a bit, huh?

But hey, perhaps there is a bit of a distraction around the locker room as of late.  After all, when your captain is involved in a bunch of trade rumors it may be hard to keep that on-ice unity alive.  According to Greg at Puck Daddy, the Chicago Blackhawks may be looking into some sort of deal to bring Kovi to Chi-town.  Sounds like it could have the same impact of the Hossa-to-Penguins deal from a few years back, doesn't it?  Not to mention he could potentially be reunited with the aforementioned Hossa, which is likely just as much a part of the rumor as anything else flying around out there.

As of today, and by that I mean while Kovalchuk remains in a Thrashers jersey, he continues to lead the team in goals and points.  Maxim Afinogenov isn't far off from the lead with his 39 points either, but Kovalchuk remains the driving force behind that offense.

At least there's some salvation in knowing that one of these two teams is guaranteed two points by the end of the night.  Who's it going to be?

Puck and thread at 7:30.