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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tibbets thoughts/ Blue liner dreams

1) Before I start my review of the first half, I note first the plea below, to leave Billy Tibbetts alone. I’ve always liked Billy, and I’ve admired his play. The attention he received in Finland began before I began writing about him again.

I try to keep in mind that Billy, his father, people who are hurt by Tibbetts presence, and others, may read these entries. Frankly, Billy Tibbetts leads to more traffic on this site than any other topic I can identify. There is a demand for news about him.

However, I’m not into some journalistic bull-shit excuse here. There is no higher motive of journalistic integrity. This is a fan blog. I’ll try to keep in mind that I am discoursing on a topic that is sensitive to others.

By the way, an excellent site on Tibbetts past is running: www.billytibbetts.com.

2) It is hard to look at the past two Wolves games without thinking about how much the defensive situation has changed and to reflect on what will probably happen in the future. The slowdown in Wolves production was almost coincidental with the injury suffered by Boris Valabik at the end of the year, although, as I discussed, it was also due to some call-ups and weakness in goal.

It is so nice to recognize that Guillaume Desbiens has really stepped up to fill the shoes of Valabik. The maturity of this young blue line is also filled by Jon Awe, who played in the Gwinnett Gladiators last year, and who has been called up from Gwinnett to play for the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins this season as well as the Wolves. Troy Milam, another Gladiators graduate, is playing excellent defense, and a tip of the hat to Linda who said he would. A mom would know!

Nathan Oystrick has also stepped into the role and matured. I admit to not liking the man’s early play, and I take back the bad things I said about him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Oystrick called up to the Atlanta Thrashers for a look this year, along with Valabik. And, for the first time, I can say we still have a strong blue line, if that happens.

The early weakness on the blue line seems to me to have been there at the same time we suffered from the presence of current Thrasher Braydon Colburn. As I said above, sometimes moms and dads read what I’ve said. I’m not happy with Colburn’s performance. Please, leave before I say something I’ll regret.

Fred Brathwaite and Michael Garnett are average in goal. I’m being kind. They both stepped up this month after a miserable few weeks at the end of the year. But, this is clearly an area that Atlanta should address in the off-season. One strong goalie is not going to allow this franchise to win the cup, never mind their affiliates.

Two goal minder prospects sit in Gwinnett: Dan Turple and Dave Caruso. Their performance there has been average, but they are prospects and rookies.

Another prospect, that I watch from my comfy chair is Chad Denny who is playing in the Quebec QJMHL’s Lewiston Maineiacs. I’ve only seen him play in the Traverse City tournament in September, but I’m excited. So far this year he has 43 points. He had 47 in all of last year. I don’t know if the Thrashers will assign him to the Wolves, we may see him, or Gwinnett may see him, during the playoffs.

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