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Thrashers open season series with rival Panthers

by Adam Kimelman
THRASHERS (5-4-2) at PANTHERS (4-5-0)
TV -- FS-S (HD), FS-F (HD)

Last 10 --
Atlanta 4-4-2

Season series -- This is the first of six meetings between the Southeast Division rivals this season. The Thrashers won four of the six games last season, but won just once at BankAtlantic Center.

Big Story --
The Thrashers will look to keep the good times going -- they've won two of their last three games and haven't lost in regulation in four games. They've averaged four goals per game in that stretch. The Panthers will be trying to carry over their own momentum from Saturday's 3-1 win against the Eastern Conference-leading Canadiens.

Team Scope:

Thrashers --
Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay knew just what kind of person he was getting when the Thrashers signed Freddy Modin -- they had won a Stanley Cup together in Tampa Bay in 2004. That was six years ago, and while coaches can get better with age, second-line scorers a month past their 36th birthday usually don't.

That's why Modin, who has just 1 goal in nine games, was a healthy scratch for last Thursday's game against the Sabres, and played just 10:29 Saturday against the Blues.

"When we brought Freddy in, we didn't expect that he was going to play every game," Ramsay told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He's a great person around the team (but) he's scored 1 goal and we need him to score more, but Freddy is a good person around your hockey club. We'd like to see better things happen for a number of our people."

Panthers -- Consider Peter DeBoer's message heard loud and clear by Michael Frolik, David Booth and Shawn Matthias. All three recently had their ice time cut, but all responded with goals Saturday against the Canadiens.

Frolik, a healthy scratch Thursday against Ottawa, opened the scoring Saturday with his first goal of the season.

"He tried to wake me up," Frolik told reporters. "I think it helped my confidence a little bit. Now it's going to be every game better and better, and I'll be at the top of my game."

Matthias was scratched from Tuesday's game against the Maple Leafs, while Booth sat for a good portion of the third period against the Senators.

"You want to be accountable for your actions," Matthias said. "Sometimes being a young guy you start thinking about offense too much. I want to play every night, so that's a good way to keep us focused."

Who's Hot -- Thrashers left wing Andrew Ladd continues to pile up the points. His 2 assists Saturday against the Blues gave him 6 points in his last five games and a team-best 12 in his first 11 games. … Booth has points in two straight; he hasn't had a longer scoring streak since March 7-14, 2009, when he had a point in four straight. With 4 goals and 8 points in nine games, he's on pace to shatter his previous personal bests of 31 goals and 60 points set in 2008-09.

Injury Report --
Thrashers center Bryan Little and defenseman Freddy Meyer (mid-body injury) skipped Monday's practice and are questionable for Wednesday's game. … Panthers center Stephen Weiss is questionable after suffering an ankle injury during a pre-practice soccer game Saturday.

Stat Pack --
One reason for the Thrashers' strong start is their power play, which entered Monday's games sixth in the League at 23.2 percent. Dustin Byfuglien leads the team and is fifth in the League with 3 power-play goals, and eight players have at least 1 power-play goal, tied for the most in the League.

Puck Drop --
Despite the injury to Weiss, DeBoer said he wasn't about to ban soccer games, which have become a popular way for players to get loose prior to games and practices.

"It's one of those fluke things, nothing you could do about it," he told reporters. "You can't bubble-wrap these guys."

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