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Sean Leahy

Great Odin's raven! The Burgundy Thrashers’ critical season

Sean Leahy
Puck Daddy

The Atlanta Thrashers debuted their "Southeast Division opponent only" third jerseys last night during a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Before the game, the team also introduced their new pregame "Keys to the Game" anchor: A man who will only appear when the team sports the new burgundy look.

You may know him because, well, he's kind of a big deal.

Ray Whitney cannot be happy being depicted as Peter Pan.

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On the ice, Atlanta is quietly one of the hottest teams in the league at the moment after winning their fifth straight game. Backstopping the franchise-tying winning streak has been Ondrej Pavelec and Johan Hedberg, who have been in net the last three wins for the Thrashers.

Is Kari Lehtonen, who's been battling an upper-body injury, still the teams' No. 1 goaltender despite being oft-injured? General manager Don Waddell isn't worrying and, instead, is enjoying the teams' depth in net:

"It's not a concern at this point, especially because we're dealing with something he's never had before," Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said. "We're in a good situation because we have two very good alternatives [in Johan Hedberg and Ondrej Pavelec]."

With Lehtonen being a restricted free agent come July 1 and Pavelec and Hedberg with another year on their contracts, this is a make or break year for the 24-year old Finn; who could be a bargain, if healthy, at $3 million. Could he be on the move?

Bruce "Malkin to the Kings" Garrioch floated the idea that the Detroit Red Wings were looking at Lehtonen, but friend of Puck Daddy, Lyle Richardson, threw cold water on that idea:

With his club having reeled off three straight victories this past week and currently still well within striking distance of a playoff berth, and their first line of Slava Kozlov, Todd White and Bryan Little leading them offensively, I doubt Waddell is planning to do any "kick starting" just yet. True, at some point they'll have to make decision on one of their goalies but I suspect Waddell isn't in any hurry to do so at this time.

How long the offensive production of Kozlov, White and Little lasts is anyone's guess; but the minute it begins slipping is when Waddell needs to look at dealing Lehtonen for help up front.

This is a very important season for Atlanta. Attendance is dwindling and their future lies in the hands of Ilya Kovalchuk.

If the Thrashers fail to make the playoffs again this season, the talented Russian will look to leave town -- and that could likely be the death blow for the franchise.

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