Arizona Coyotes Host Anaheim Ducks Tonight in Final Game of Set

Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Arizona Coyotes hope to get off to a much better start against the Anaheim Ducks tonight in their final game of the set.

The Arizona Coyotes snapped out of their first period sleep-skating session on Monday night to ultimately score four unanswered goals and defeat the Anaheim Ducks 4 to 3. Although victorious, the team cannot be satisfied with how they began the game and how they wasted an entire period by playing some ugly, embarrassing, and uninspired hockey.

Is an NHL team even allowed to play that poorly? Can the league impose a “team misconduct” penalty on the franchise for the Coyotes posing as a professional hockey team for 20 minutes?

As I suffered through the indignity of witnessing the first period and wondered why the Yotes couldn’t clear the puck out of their “D” zone even if their lives depended on it, I began to wonder who the team’s best defensive player is. I guess it’s okay to think about something like that when there’s only about 2 minutes of a period spent in a team’s “O” zone (and right in front of my seat), and the rest “clustered” in what I refer to as Darcy Kuemper’s nightmare!

Anyway, by what criteria do you judge a defenseman? His boyish good looks and having all of his teeth? His physicality? A willingness to engage an attacker by pressuring him inside the zone? Is blocking shots an important attribute? How a “D” man plays while the puck is in his possession and he’s under pressure is certainly a good measuring stick.

We’ve all seen passes from within the “D” zone get intercepted and wonder if that particular move was actually a pass attempt or a half-hearted effort to merely relieve
forechecking pressure and getting rid of the “hot potato,” not really caring where the heck the puck goes. Have you ever wondered if a Coyotes player making a pass from his “D” zone realizes that the player receiving the pass is wearing a completely different colored sweater?

Should the overall quality of a defenseman also be judged by his commitment to and involvement in the offensive play? There are “stay at home” defenders that are more comfortable protecting the “house,” while others prefer to get involved in attacking play. The Kings’ Drew Doughty and the Sharks’ Brent Burns are two prime examples of attacking defensemen that play a lot of minutes for their respective clubs. Both Jakob Chychrun and Oliver Ekman-Larsson play similar roles with the Coyotes. We’ll address the Coyotes’ defensive group as a whole soon in an upcoming post, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, the Yotes need to get off to a fast start this evening against the fired up Anaheim ducks. Let’s see if their impressive come-from-behind success carries over into and through tonight. Let’s go Coyotes!