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Up next: The Atlanta Thrashers

[SBN Thrashers blog - Birdwatcher's Anonymous]

Record: 34-34-13 (10th in the East)

Scorers: Nik Antropov (24g, 43a), Max Afinogenov (24g, 37a)

Last week when the Penguins and Thrashers met up, Atlanta still had a chance at claiming a playoff spot.  Slim as it might've been, the chance was still there.  Today?  Well, not so much.  As I've stated earlier and many times throughout the season, I was really pulling for Atlanta to make a run for the 8th seed.  I know the odds were stacked against them - well with the whole Kovalchuk thing and a new goalie of sorts still trying to get his fit in the league - but my hopes were still high.  Now, the Thrashers are out of contention.  Too good to get a high pick, too bad to make it to the playoffs.  It's a horrid spot to be for any team.  After all, we can't all tank on purpose for Mario Lemieux or Sidney Crosby.  (You're welcome trolls).

Last night the Thrashers allowed Washington to walk all over them in a 5-2 loss.  Ovechkin picked up goal 49 and 50 along the way, sending the Thrashers down to a .500 record with tonight's game standing as the final one of the season.

Thanks to a monstrous win over the Islanders Thursday night and a Devils loss to the Panthers, both Pittsburgh and New Jersey are tied at the top of the Atlantic with 99 points a piece.  The good news is each team only has two games each remaining on the schedule.  The bad news is tonight also marks New Jersey's chance to trounce the Islanders.  The best news?  Well, the Pens close their season Sunday against - the Islanders.  Who could've thought a team like the Islanders could play such a pivotal role in the playoffs without actually BEING in the playoffs?

In other division play, I'd suggest you all keep an eye on the Rangers/Flyers going down tomorrow at 3:00.  With a 4-3 win over Philly last night, the Rangers remain alive in the playoff race.  Whoever wins Sunday's game is bound for postseason hockey.  If you're looking for an early example of playoff hockey, watch this game.

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves here.  First things first, let's see the Pens pick up another win tonight.  Let's see Sid keep tally up some numbers in the goal category as well.  He and Ovechkin will definitely put on an exciting show here at the end of the season.

Puck and thread tonight at 7:00.