Five things you missed: Arizona Coyotes vs Vancouver Canucks


Sep 29, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Henrik Sedin (33) battles with Arizona Coyotes forward Joe Vitale (14) during the third period at Rogers Arena. Arizona won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Hey! Hey, guys! We won 4-2!

But Catherine, what about pre-season not really counting? 


Pre-season is one of those weird double-edged swords that causes WAY more arguments than it should. Do preseason points count? No. Should every game be celebrated as the fantastic and deserving win that it may or may not be? Nah.

What starts out as a way for coaches to slim down 50+ player rosters evolves as it progresses, though, until you get to games like last night’s matchup between the Arizona Coyotes and the Vancouver Canucks. Here are five things you should look at from that game, and tuck them away in your head for later in the season:

1. Scorepower

Sep 29, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Arizona Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette (50), and winger Shane Doan (19), and forward Mikkel Boedker (89), and defenseman Keith Yandle (3), and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) celebrate Doan

Both teams may not have had their actual finalized rosters on the ice (for example, Arizona was missing Lauri Korpikoski and Lucas Lessio in addition to David Schlemko and Brandon Gormley), but those lines looked pretty close to what we might see in October. We saw a terrifying line of Radim Vrbata, Sedin One, and Sedin Two skating off the Vancouver bench. We saw Max Domi continuing to play alongside Martin Hanzal- should Domi make the squad, we could expect to see this on a regular basis.

What was most important to note, though, was that the Coyotes seemed to have recovered well from the loss of Vrbata’s scorepower. The final score was 4-2, and the scoring chances reflected the final score. The Coyotes outshot the Canucks 35-25- without Vrbata on their side of the ice- and Ryan Miller simply wasn’t able to keep up with the onslaught of well-placed and well-timed chances that kept heading his way.

2. Goaltending

I don’t dislike Ryan Miller, but I do think that the Canucks made a poor choice selecting him as a starter. He’s served the league well, but his age is catching up to him and it shows. He wasn’t doing an effective job of smothering the puck, rather relying on his own defense to create turnarounds. He also favored protecting his crease over entering play, having moments where he looked like he wanted to come out and clear the puck but chose not to. This hurt Vancouver in the end, as the Coyotes were able to score off of a couple really solid opportunities that could have been avoided.

Mike Smith looked like Mike Smith. He made dozens of acrobatic and amazing saves, but the first goal of the night was simply the result of him not getting back into position quickly enough. If he continues to play like this, the team will have to favor strong scoring chances in order to make the playoffs.

3. Joe Vitale and the bottom six

Stats are a weird thing. According to last night’s post-game stats, Joe Vitale was the least effective center sitting on Arizona’s bench, lagging behind Hanzal, Vermette, and Chipchura with only a .50 FO%. That was clearly not the case, though, as he’s walking away from the game with two points (1G, 1A) and a ton of really effective plays he should be proud of. He’s fast and aggressive, and works well on a line with Brandon McMillan. The two haven’t been playing together for very long, but already seem to have a good read on each other. I expect strong production out of that line, whether it serves as the third or the fourth line

ON THE OTHER HAND, I hated the bottom line. BJ Crombeen, Rob Klinkhammer, and Kyle Chipchura looked like a fourth line, while the first three lines had a more even talent distribution. There wasn’t a ton of offensive play coming off the fourth line, because there wasn’t a ton of anything.

Like I said, stats are a weird thing- the bottom line scored, but I still can’t praise them for how they played overall.

4. Keith Yandle

If the Keith Yandle we saw last night is the one we’ll get all season, he’s going to have a monster year- and so will the Coyotes.

I have no idea how he walked away from the game without a goal. He was firing shot after shot at the Canucks net, and had a more clearly defined role on his own end of the ice. He and Connor Murphy made some really good plays together- I TOTALLY CALLED IT, GUYS.

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  • Expect to see that combination, and anticipate an Oliver Ekman-LarssonZbynek Michalek top-two pairing. As for your third pairing, I’d like to see Michael Stone paired with David Schlemko– I wasn’t a big fan of the Matt Smaby ice appearance. He’s a little slow for my particular taste. If there’s anything to be confident of, though, it’s that Yandle and OEL will be the special teams defensive pairing. Like, all the time.

     5. Rookie treatment

    There was one particular pass last night made by Max Domi that made me think “well duh, that’s Max Domi”, even though I couldn’t clearly see his jersey. His offensive game was on point, even if he didn’t rack up a point.

    There were flashes where he didn’t seem to have a firm enough grasp on the defensive side of things, though. At one point during the night, Domi was just handing the Sedin twins the puck. Overall, he played as you would expect a rookie to play in his first game against real opposition.

    I’ve seen coaches handle rookie mistakes in a number of ways, but Dave Tippett knew exactly what he was doing when he took Domi off for a single shift. He could have moved him to a different line or taken him off the ice altogether (both things I’ve seen happen in games where a player makes a significant mistake that bears fixing immediately), but instead he gave him exactly what every coach should- a proverbial slap on the wrist, and a couple of minutes to collect himself and get his mind back where it should be.

    It was interesting to watch the young players on both sides of the ice. Plus, we got to see a bit of friendly rivalry- Max Domi was playing opposite his own OHL teammate Bo Horvat for most of the night. It looks like either- or both- players could be skating out with their respective draft clubs as early as this season.