OTTAWA, Ontario — Forwards Ben Eager and Niclas Bergfors were healthy scratches for the second consecutive game as the Thrashers played at Ottawa on Monday night. Both regulars were out for Saturday night's 5-4 win over the New York Islanders.
"It's never fun sitting out," Eager said. "It's [coach Craig Ramsay's] decision. I guess a lot of coaches keep the same lineup if you are winning, so hopefully it works out again.
“Obviously, I haven’t been playing my best hockey the last couple of games. That is most likely a reason I’m sitting out. I’m going to work hard and get back in the lineup.”
Fredrik Modin and Tim Stapleton again replaced Eager and Bergfors.
Ramsay said the decision to scratch the forwards once more had more to do with the play of Modin and Stapleton against the Islanders. However, he added that once a player is out of the lineup, it won’t be easy to get back in.
“I just think that Stapleton fit right in," Ramsay said of Stapleton's Saturday performance. "I thought Freddy did a good job. He had some good forechecks, he held the puck and made some good plays defensively. I was very, very pleased with both of them. When a guy steps in and plays hard, he deserves a chance to play again.”
Eager said he has not discussed his play with the coaching staff.
“I haven’t sat down with them, but I think it’s pretty clear they obviously weren’t happy with the way I was playing and that’s why I’m out,” Eager said.
Bergfors was a healthy scratch for three of four games in October. He is tied for fifth on the team with seven goals. In 53 games since he was obtained from New Jersey in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade, Bergfors had 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists). Eager has eight points (three goals, five assists) for the Thrashers. He had played in every game this season before being scratched Saturday.
Ramsay said he expects Eager and Bergfors to get back in the lineup, but didn't know when that would occur.
“That’s part of what we are trying to grow here,” Ramsay said. “Their job is to be ready, just like those other two were, when you get your chance to go back in you better be ready to play."
Ondrej Pavelec was back in goal against the Senators, his 12th start in the past 13 games. Pavelec said he was looking forward to playing in Ottawa where the Senators have averaged crowds of 17,673 through 17 home games this season, including four sellouts. "They have great guys and we have to be ready for them," Pavelec said. "They have a couple guys who can score the goals. We are going to play our hockey and we can beat anybody. I like this building. I like these fans. It's always nice to play here." ... The Thrashers tweaked line combinations slightly on Monday. Nik Antropov skated at right wing on a line with Andrew Ladd and Rich Peverley. Stapleton and Modin were centered by Alexander Burmistrov. ... Modin, who missed 12 games with a rib injury, said he felt significant improvement last week. "The last week really was the turning point," Modin said. "We went into week four there and after three weeks it really started to come around. I really felt changes from day to day." Modin played more than nine minutes in 14 shifts in his return Saturday against the Islanders.