Last Night’s 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks was a dud, no way around it. This was not the way the organization wanted to start the “hockey the hard way” campaigned season. The one thing to take from this game is that it simply is just one game. The build up to the beginning of a season sometimes brings extra pressure on one game. This game does not mean that the off-season moves were right or wrong. It also does not mean that the defensive system is a failure. The Phoenix Coyotes are built to win and lose together. The pack mentality is an honorable one, but does make the entire team and coaching staff the scapegoat. Positives can be taken from this game, and more importantly lessons can be learned from this game. The off-season talk about strengths and weaknesses, line combinations, and potentials can now be put away. The coaching staff is reliable, and proven. Game one of the 2011-12 season is a building block for the coaching staff to work with right now. Here are some pros and cons from the Coyotes opening defeat.
- Raffi Torres played a very controlled game and provided some much needed energy with his usual style.
- Shane Doan seems to have picked up right where he left off in the playoffs last year. He has found the fountain of youth on the power play point, and was a force with the puck. Once again, the captain lead by example and was able to make the final score sheet somewhat respectable.
- Boyd Gordon was able to win a lot of his face-offs, and was creative in the offensive zone.
- Mike Smith played a very respectable game despite giving up 6 goals. He was able to give this team a chance to sneak back into the game. If the defense can limit the shots, Mike Smith will have a very good opportunity to get back to the playoffs.
- I thought the fore-check was close to what Dave Tippett wanted, and that will result in more goals in future contests.
- The broadcast was well done. Matt McConnell has a great hockey voice, and Tyson Nash was up to his usual antics. My favorite Nash line was when he was referencing McConnell‘s quick view of a penalty, “I may have the beak partner, but you have the eyes”. The two will continue to build chemistry and lighten up, very similar to the team on the ice.
- This game would not have been won by Ilya Bryzgalov or Kyle Turris, so no need to even think of the two when looking for explanations to the Coyotes performance.
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored a goal.
- The San Jose Sharks, once again, are favored for the Stanley Cup. They out worked, and out skilled the Coyotes last night. The team can now have a measuring stick on where they are compared to one of the elite teams in the league.
- As great as Mike Smith could be, facing 52 shots is just unacceptable. This team preaches protecting the goalie, but did not come close last night. A long season will be in store for both Coyotes goaltenders if the defense continues to deliver performances like this one.
- Stay out of the penalty box! It is always disappointing when a team leader is in the box. Derek Morris is a great leader, and solid defenseman but continues to commit untimely penalties. Staying out of the box will impact the amount of shots, and scoring opportunities.
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a young player, but cannot continue to be in the lineup with his play last night. He scored a goal, and certainly will build on it. But in the defensive zone, Ekman-Larsson continues to shy away from any physical contact. The young Swede needs to start earning the trust of his goaltender and focus on his defensive play without the puck. David Schlemko earned the right to play last season, and I think deserves a chance to play this season.
- Michael Rozsival had a nasty injury, wish him the best.
- I was not happy with some of the line combinations for the game. In particular, I do not think Taylor Pyatt should be on a line with Martin Hanzal. Both are big bodies, and Radim Vrbata needs a speedy player on the opposite wing. I love what Pyatt can bring, but he also needs a speedy winger on his line. The Coyotes have plenty of speed on the wings to spread out the lines. This leads into the fact that Lauri Korpikoski played at center last night. I understand the reasoning, but it further proves that this team needs another proven center. Korpikoski is a huge asset on the wing, and needs to get back to playing on the wing.
- Why was Paul Bissonnette playing? The San Jose Sharks are not a “fighting” team, and Patrick O’Sullivan made the club to provide much needed offense. This game would have been a good chance to get O’Sullivan going from the start.
- Penalty Kill did not learn much from last year against the Sharks. The slot was wide open.
- Rusty Klesla still is struggling to grasp the defensive system, and could prove to be a liability.
Topics: Dave Tippett, Derek Morris, Kyle Turris, Lauri Korpikoski, Matt McConnell, Mike Smith, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Patrick O'Sullivan, Paul Bissonnette, Phoenix Coyotes, Radim Vrbata, Raffi Torres, Rusty Klesla, San Jose Sharks, Shane Doan, Tyson Nash