Реклама в Интернет * Все Кулички
|18 ноября 2009
Antropov adjusts to new role: He's without a goal, but getting back in the groove at center // The Atlanta Journal - Constitution.
There has been an adjustment period for Nik Antropov.
The forward was moved to the center position, after playing right wing the past several years, when he signed with the Thrashers as a free agent last offseason.
But once there, he encountered a convenient truth: centering the top line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Max Afinogenov can make the transition easier.
Antropov has 16 points this season, all of them on assists. He has set up five of Kovalchuk's 12 goals and three of Afinogenov's seven.
Four assists have come on Rich Peverley goals. He also has set up goals by four different defensemen.
However, Antropov is without a goal himself. He is one of three Thrashers --- all of them forwards --- yet to score this season. The adjustment continues.
"I'm just starting to get back in the groove [of playing center]," Antropov said Tuesday. "It took me 12, 14 games just to get the feeling back, being on faceoffs and stuff like that. It was quite an adjustment. I haven't played center in the last six or seven years. But I've started to feel more comfortable and the team is winning. That's most important."
Antropov signed a four-year, $16 million contract with the Thrashers. He knows the team is not paying him for assists.
"Obviously it does [get frustrating]," Antropov said. "Going 17 games without a goal, I don't even know what you call it. I just have to shoot. I know that. ... Sometimes the pass isn't there, but I still try to get the puck to Max and Kovy. I just have to work on it and shoot more in the games."
Antropov is tied for sixth in the NHL in assists and is on pace to set a career- high. He had 30 assists, along with 26 goals, two seasons ago in Toronto. He has set career-highs in goals each of the past three seasons with 18, 26 and 28 goals.
"He's a great player," Kovalchuk said. "He's going to get his goals, too. If everybody keeps playing well, we'll all get goals. ... He can play center and right wing. That's why we are blessed."
Who can argue right now? The Thrashers have won four straight and are 10-6-1 (21 points), reaching 10 wins in the second-fastest start in franchise history. The fastest? Their one and only playoff season of 2006-07.
Antropov is 21st in the NHL in plus-minus rating with a plus-7. The top line is a combined plus-11.
"I'm just dishing the puck off," Antropov said. "They are both great goal scorers, really skilled and fast skaters. I'm trying to feed them as much as possible. ... It's always nice to get points. But the most important thing for us is to keep winning games and make the playoffs."
Forward Bryan Little and defenseman Pavel Kubina skated without pads on Tuesday but left the ice before the start of team practice. Both are day-to-day, according to Thrashers coach John Anderson.
Little has missed the past two games with a groin injury. Kubina did not play Sunday against Edmonton due to lower body soreness. He was hit with a puck in Friday's win over Los Angeles.
Anderson said the team likely will make a decision soon on the next step in the return of Boris Valabik. The defenseman is on injured reserve after undergoing ankle surgery. He has not played this season and could go to the team's AHL affiliate in Chicago for a rehab assignment.
Anderson said goaltender Ondrej Pavelec probably would have played Sunday but was held out as a precaution after being hit in the knee with a puck against Los Angeles. Johan Hedberg has started three of the past four games, all of them wins.
"I don't think there is any set philosophy," Anderson said of the rotation. "We look at the teams we are playing and the success they've had against them. Nothing is set in stone."