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9 января 2008 года. 
Are the Thrashers relying too much on Kovalchuk? // The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Searching for answers for what is ailing them every other game, the Thrashers could start, perhaps, on the stat sheet. It's leaning.

Ilya Kovalchuk has scored 35 of the Thrashers' 121 goals this season, accounting for 29 percent of their scoring.

That's just shades off the pace to set an NHL record for one player accounting for the biggest chunk of a team's offense. Florida's Pavel Bure scored 29.5 percent of the team's goals in 2000-01.

The next leading scorer for the Thrashers — Marian Hossa — has about half Kovalchuk's goal total with 16. The third-leading scorer is Slava Kozlov who has 12 goals, and he just got dropped to the third line. Kozlov has played 9:59 minutes and 14:15 minutes in his last two games.

Is there a problem here? The Thrashers say yes and no.

"Well," Kozlov said and exhaled. "He's playing very well for us."

Kozlov's point is that you don't knock it when you have a guy putting up the kind of season Kovalchuk is. Why bite the hand that's feeding them? He went on to discuss the team's lack of energy at times and how the Thrashers aren't playing smart when they're tired.

Associate head coach Brad McCrimmon said he hasn't noticed anybody deferring to Kovalchuk, as in passing up their own shots. And the statistics seem to back that up. Kovalchuk is actually shooting less this year than he did last. He's averaging 3.8 shots per game compared to 4.1 shots last season. He's just shooting more fruitfully.

His 20.7 shooting percentage is second in the NHL and a big step up from last year's 12.5.

Center Bobby Holik is not afraid to raise questions with this team, but he's not raising questions about the one thing that has actually been consistent — Kovalchuk's scoring.

"We're scoring enough goals to win games," Holik said.

Problems he pointed to from Tuesday night's loss were that after going down 4-1, the Flyers could focus more on defense, making it even harder to score. So his theory is you keep games closer, it's easier to score.

"We'll get our goals if we play better not necessarily defensively, but more responsibly," Holik said. "If every game is 0-0, 1-1 going into the third period, I feel a lot more positive about this team than I feel negative. It's [about] playing a better overall game. We still have as many shots at the other team, but we gave up too many quality scoring opportunities."

Tuesday night the Thrashers had 28 shots to Philadelphia's' 29.

The centers of the top two scoring lines, though, can see the need for spreading the scoring around more.

"[Kovalchuk's] got such a great shot that it's obviously in our best interests to get him the puck if we can," said Todd White, who centers Kovalchuk's line. "But at the same time, I think going forward, for us to have success, we will need more consistent scoring from everybody else too."

Eric Perrin, who centers the second line, said it's not that the Thrashers are trying to rely too much on Kovalchuk.

"I think everybody wants to make a difference here," Perrin said. "I think right now we just tend to get mentally distracted easily, and we've got to get over that."

Страничка Ильи Ковальчука на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


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