BOSTON — Former Bruins assistant coach Craig Ramsay has his Atlanta Thrashers ranked sixth in the NHL in goals per game.
And there’s an easy reason why, as the first-year Thrashers head coach explained today after his team’s morning skate.
“I think the most important thing that I tried to talk about when I first there was that I’m not pigeon-holing anybody. Everybody will be required to participate in the offense first,” said Ramsay, whose team sits sixth in Eastern Conference 19-12-5. “It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done in the past, we need you to participate offensively. We need defensemen to jump up, we need our tough guys to try and score a goal, not just take up time and space. And I think it’s shown up …”
That’s why Dustin Byfuglien, a plodding forward for Chicago, is now the highest-scoring defenseman in the NHL with 36 points. And why Andrew Ladd has emerged as a 12-goal, 31-point performer, and even pugilist Eric Boulton recently recorded a hat trick. Ramsay, a defensive forward as a player and a huge help building Boston’s air-tight defense the last couple years, can afford to let loose on the reins a bit because of the talent he has up front and on the back end.
Of course, the Thrashers are just 17th in goals against this season, despite the presence of the one of the league’s premier goaltenders — Ondrej Pavelec, who boasts a 1.82 goals-against average and .943 save percentage. Their goal going forward will be to tighten that up.
If ever there was proof that you have to coach to what your personnel is, the Bruins and Thrashers are certainly it.