By now you know that the player of the game gets a WWE replica championship belt. Hanzal had it, passed it to Klesla, he passed it to Whitney after his two goals vs the Devils, and now it should be back in the hands of his linemate Radim Vrbata. His two goal performance earned him first star against the LA Kings tonight at the Jobing.com arena. A win in OT off an impossible angle shot from Daymond Langkow squeaked past Jonathon Quick with 43.7 seconds left in the OT period. No one, especially Mike Smith, wanted to go to a shootout.
Smittty again showed why the Yotes fans believe in him with his 37 stops, allowing just two goals for a .949 save percentage. The Coyotes killed off four King power plays, including a penalty on Rafi Torres with 13 seconds left in regulation that carried over into the OT. The Phoenix penalty kill is 92%. Who would have thought after the season opener in San Jose that the penalty kill would be this successful? Coach Tippett credited Smith with coming up with big saves, the defensemen keeping opposing players from getting position in front of Smith, and the forwards with active sticks and filling the lanes.
The three stars were Schlemko, Smith, and Vrbata. Who could have been there is Rusty Klesla. He is playing lights out, shut down defense along with jumping into the rush and being another offensive weapon. This is the reason high salary blue line defensemen were allowed to leave and GMDM didn’t need to bring in one as a free agent. Furthermore, this defense is playing without Michel Rosival. Word came out today he is remaining on IR and has not been cleared to skate. Chris Summers was sent down to Portland, so it seems his return has got to be sooner rather than later.
On Friday, Rafi Torres was interviewed by SiriusXM Home Ice hosts Scott Laughlin and guest. The audio can be found below.
Rafi was asked by guest Ralph Brophy”Do you take a real pride in the job you do?” Does he like living and playing in Phoenix?” “How is it to play with Shane Doan?” “Have you gotten over losing the Cup in Vancouver last year?” and “How do you like playing for Dave Tippett?” Rafi deserves honorable mention for putting away these bunnies for questions.
The boys are off for two days, then play the red hot Colorado Avs on Wednesday before returning home for the Nashville Predators on Thursday night. Comments welcome and appreciated.