Thrashers' Little cleared to practice

Wednesday was a good day for Bryan Little. He wasn't bored and he didn't feel helpless watching his Thrashers teammates play without him.

The forward was able to return to practice after suffering a concussion and facial lacerations against Buffalo Oct. 29 that caused him to miss five games. Little passed a final neuro-psych test on Tuesday after being headache-free for more than a week. He skated on his own Tuesday.

Little was held out of contact drills Wednesday, but just getting back on the ice with teammates was enough.

“It’s not fun watching,” Little said. “For four or five days after, I wasn’t doing anything so I was pretty bored. ... Now it’s just a matter of getting a couple practices and shake off the rust. I felt pretty bad [Tuesday] skating because I hadn’t really done any exercise. [Wednesday] I felt a lot better. They want me to practice and skate again [Thursday] and hopefully by the weekend, I will be good.”

The Thrashers are 1-3-1 without Little. There is no timetable for his return, but Little hopes to play by the weekend in games against Pittsburgh and Washington. He said he could not stand to watch the team’s road games.

“I was just checking in on the score instead of watching it because I wanted to be there so bad,” he said.

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said he will wait until Little is cleared to play before adjusting the lineup. It is likely, the coach said, he will be reunited with Andrew Ladd.

“We’d like to create a situation where if you get out of the lineup, it’s not all that easy to get back in,” Ramsay said. “But [Little] is a pretty competent player and we’re going to find a place for him.”

Little scored his first goal of the season the game before being hit by Buffalo's Shoane Morrisonn. Little was off balance when Morrisonn collided with him, causing him to hit the boards.

Little required a total of 19 stitches to close two cuts. The larger cut above his left eye needed 13 stitches. He said concussion symptoms began several days later, once the pain from the cuts subsided.

“It was a good play by [Morrisonn],” Little said. “He got me on my shoulder just as I was following through on my shot so I was off balance on one leg. I impacted with the boards because I was a dangerous distance away and banged my head against there pretty good. ...

“I didn’t even know I was cut until the trainer came out and I took my hand away. I just knew I hit my face pretty hard. After they stitched me up, I wanted to come back and play. I was ready to go, but they said there were going to be safe and use caution. I’m glad they did.”

Turnovers plague team

Turnovers were again the culprit in the Thrashers’ latest loss. Atlanta had eight giveaways in Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to Ottawa.

The mention of the turnover issue leaves Ramsay shaking his head.

"When we talk about teams taking away the middle, trapping in the middle, we can't throw [the puck] in the middle," Ramsay said following the loss. "We've talked about it from the first day of training camp. We can't make soft plays into the middle. If you look, a couple of plays, we threw long [passes] off the wall. [Anthony Stewart] ends ups [scoring] because [Nik Antropov] just banks it off the wall. [Evander] Kane and Stewart had a two-on-one, just because we shot it off the board and chased it. It's not a soft play. It's a simple play, but it's not a soft play. We have to make smart plays."

The turnovers were not just an issue against the Senators. The Thrashers have committed the third most turnovers in the NHL with 132, trailing only Chicago (187) and Washington (133).


Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal for Thursday's home game against Minnesota. Pavelec relieved Chris Mason in the second period against Ottawa and stopped 10-of-11 shots. ... Anthony Stewart was held out of practice Wednesday but expected to play against the Wild.