If you saw the game last night, you saw a complete game by the Coyotes. 100% success rate on the penalty kill. 3 power play goals. A 44 save shutout by team MVP Mike Smith. And the pleasure of being there for the 1000 and 1001 points in the career of Ray Whitney. Ray joins an elite group of players, most of whom are in the NHL Hall of Fame, as being 1 of 79 to hit the milestone. I have some observations from the game.
- Ray Whitney conducted the Cisco In Arena interview post game with the NHL Network on the other end. Ray is backed up to the scorer’s box, the camera is on the concourse level. You are talking to the NHL Network deck in Toronto. After the interview, Ray is slowly skating toward the bench and he is waving to his family in a suite and blows them a kiss. In the middle of the 2nd greatest moment of his career (after winning the Stanley Cup with Carolina), he is thinking about his family. The ones who help him stay in the league for 20 years. The ones who are there to support him, pick up and move after every time a team cut, waived, or bought him out.
- The primary reason the penalty kill was successful six out of six chances is due to the goalie. Mike Smith was in full playoff mode and stopping everything. Every part of his equipment was used as he even took shots off the mask in making saves. Rebounds were either steered toward the corner or covered up.
- The second reason for the success was the blatant disregard for the bodies of the penalty kill team. Everyone was laying down and blocking shots. Whether the shot was coming from the point or the high slot, forwards were using their body to stop the forward momentum of the frozen rubber puck. Energy from the velocity of the puck is absorbed by the player. Force = mass x acceleration. Force is what your body is absorbing, equal to the weight of the puck (6 ounces) times the speed of a slapper from the point (90 mph). D-men were moving bodies from the crease, allowing Smitty to see the puck and determine if a rebound can be directed to a safe area. There is nothing better than seeing Derek or Adrian just remove a forward by pushing them out and not letting them get a stick in the shot direction.
- The Prime Line just produces. 2 Power Play goals. Lots of shots and traffic at the net. Hanzal was just crushing bodies all over the ice. They were as close to perfect as I’ve seen out of a Coyote line over the course of a game.
- The coaches and players made some great first intermission adjustments. They Coyotes gave up 21 shots in the first period, 5 in the second. The Yotes being on the power play for most of the period definitely took the pressure off Smith having to weather the onslaught, but the defense tightened and the forwards kept backchecking and control of the neutral zone.
- Gilbert Brule was jumped by Corey Perry. Giving up 4 inches in height and 30 pounds, most players would turtle or just hug to prevent getting hit. Brule swung away and got in his shots. In front of the Coyote bench. In full display of the coaches. Perry went off with about a week of penalty minutes, including fighting with a shield. The ultimate coward move. If you are going to jump a player and fight, get the shield off you helmet first or just take off your helmet. See Jarome Iginla on how to do it successfully.
- Oliver Ekman-Larson coming out of the penalty box and skating up ice, ready to take the perfectly placed feed from Mikkel Boedker was the prettiest play all year. Sick move by OEL, better play by Bods.
- Lastly, seeing the love from the crowd to the players shows that when the Coyotes win, fans will show up. Seeing the crowd there shows me that marketing has to work harder than they have to in Toronto or Vancouver.