Still searching for a victory, the Thrashers depart on a two-game road trip that will conclude the exhibition season. They take an 0-4 record into games at Carolina on Friday and Columbus on Saturday.
The Thrashers insist that a winless start is not cause for alarm. The more important things are learning a new system and new teammates.
“I hate even saying this, but right now the end result isn’t the big thing,” goaltender Chris Mason said. “We are getting to know each other and learning as we go, and we have shown some improvement in some areas and some areas we have to keep working on.
“If you ask anybody, we’d rather be 4-0, but when these games are done they don’t count for anything. As long as we are learning things right now, that’s the important thing. We want to win, you set out every game to win, but if we are learning from the coaches and all the new systems, that’s what’s important.”
The Thrashers have allowed the first goal in all four games, have never led a game and have been outscored 12-6. The latest loss was a 4-3 defeat to Nashville where the Thrashers matched their preseason goal total, but lost for the third time by a goal that came in the final period.
Following the final two exhibitions, the Thrashers must trim their roster to a maximum of 23 players by Wednesday. The season opener, versus Washington, is next Friday.
Jim Slater returned to practice Thursday after missing several days with an injury to his right wrist that has been an issue all training camp. The forward skated but was unable to take part in drills.
Slater would not reveal the exact nature of the injury, but said surgery was ruled out as an option.
“That’s the last thing I want to go through,” Slater said.
He also said that, while unlikely, he would like to play in an exhibition game. However, if not, there is still a week before the start of the season.
“That’s my timetable to be ready by next week,” he said.
Dustin Byfuglien missed his third consecutive practice as he recovers from an ankle injury. Ramsay said he was unsure if the defenseman would play in one of the final exhibition games. Byfuglien was not on the 22-player roster for Friday’s game.
Enver Lisin was released from his pro tryout contract Thursday. Lisin did not appear in an exhibition game. Lisin, 24, played 57 games for the New York Rangers last season with 14 points (six goals, eight assists). He became an unrestricted free agent when he was not offered a contract by the Rangers following the season.
The move trims the Thrashers' roster to 29 players.
Burmistrov continues to improve
Coach Craig Ramsay said he has been encouraged by the growth of first-round pick Alexander Burmistrov.
“Burmy has made huge strides. [Wednesday] he had a couple of instances. On one of the long shifts we had in our end, he had the puck over the red line and decided to stick handle. He certainly isn’t the only one, but we want to nip that one as quick as we can. One of the great things is as soon as he got to the bench a couple of the veteran players grabbed him and say ‘Hey kid, get it deep and let the boys change.’ It was good to see our bench take care of it.”
Burmistrov has appeared in each exhibition game during the preseason and is on the 22-player roster for the game against Carolina.