UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Craig Ramsay hopes his message is loud and clear.
If you don’t play hard, you don’t play.
The Thrashers coach scratched forwards Ben Eager and Niclas Bergfors for Saturday night's game at the New York Islanders following Friday's 4-2 home loss to Colorado. In their place, Fredrik Modin and Tim Stapleton were in the lineup.
“I wanted to bring some attention to the team that we didn’t play hard enough,” Ramsay said before Saturday’s game. “It’s always unfortunate when you are the guy that’s getting picked [to sit], but we looked at it and even though Bergfors scored [against Colorado], we felt that he could play a little harder. The same with Benny.
"We’ve got to battle for pucks. We’ve got to get pucks. We’ve got to keep pucks. And that’s what we are hoping to see from the whole team from now on. [Modin and Stapleton] will hopefully bring a little of that spark.”
Modin missed the past 12 games with a rib injury, suffered in the first period of the Nov. 13 game against Pittsburgh.
“He’s been skating and shooting and this past week he finally made that big step forward,” Ramsay said of Modin. “I thought this is a good time to get him a game. We have three [games] in four [nights], three in four and three in four. It will be a good opportunity for him to go in and play some hockey.”
Modin took Eager's spot at left wing and skated on a line with Nik Antropov and Alexander Burmistrov. Stapleton, who was playing his second game since being signed last month, took Bergfors' spot at right wing and skated on a line with Andrew Ladd and Rich Peverley.
The game marked the first one Eager has sat out all season.
“We spent a lot of time watching,” Ramsay said of the team’s troubles against Colorado. “It’s really hard to understand. Sometimes you have that time off ... and you take a deep breath and say, ‘It’s OK now.’ It’s not OK. It’s never OK, playing like that. We have to go out and aggressively try to take charge of the game. ...
“We knew we were going to use a lot of people in this run. We’ll get two fresh guys in tonight. We just weren’t good enough the other night. Hopefully, we will get a little spark from a couple of guys that should be fresh.”
Mason back in
Chris Mason made his first start in goal in nearly a month on Saturday. He last started on Nov. 14 against Washington and Ondrej Pavelec started the following 11 games.
“The players are very aware of what’s gone on,” Ramsay said of Mason’s return. “They know Mason competes and what a good team guy he is. They are going to want to play hard in front of him.”
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