Well, tonight was a special night for the Five For Howling crew as the Phoenix Coyotes were kind enough to grant Carl and I access to the press box for the game against the Los Angeles Kings. It was a pretty nice seat perched high above the Jobing.com Arena ice and the experience was top rate - of course, I have nothing to compare this to, so I'll just give the Coyotes the benefit of the doubt in the sense that they have a very nice press area to view the game. I was also able to get down to the locker room and get some video with Shane Doan and Scottie Upshall following the game, as well as Coach Tippett's press conference (those videos will be after the jump).
On a personal level, I was (for the most part) able to avoid breaching protocol by cheering like a fan throughout the game (with the exception of a few quiet cheers for the MacLean goal and Doan's second goal), so that's good. Also watching the Canada-Norway WJC game and some of the other NHL games from the seats prior to the puck drop was pretty nice.
As to the game, for a team that has been in an offensive funk (one goal per game the last four), the Coyotes came out in a big way, scoring four in the first before adding two more in the second en route to the 6-3 victory. The bounces that just didn't seem to be going the Coyotes' way the past seven games or so dating back to the start of the east coast trip started to come back a bit. In that regards the Coyotes also helped themselves by crashing the net effectively and taking advantage of their speed and playmaking ability.
The offensive outburst was highlighted by Captain Shane Doan's 36th career two-goal game. Doan scored the game's opening goal converting a great effort from Scottie Upshall off of an LA turnover and added a power play tally in the second, but could not convert the hat trick. His best opportunity came in the third on the power play when he redirected a Derek Morris slap pass off the left post. With the crowd chanting "Doaner, Doaner" in the final minutes, the team tried to keep feeding Captain Coyote the puck, but to no avail.
The first period's seven goals was the result of several failings of team defense by both squads as the teams traded goals throughout leaving players uncovered in the slot or on back-door rushes. Scottie Upshall netted a goal and two assists in the first frame, and Brett MacLean scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game on his very first shot. Ray Whitney scored a highlight-reel goal slamming a one timer into a wide open net on a tremendous cross ice feed from Keith Yandle, who had three assists on the night.
Ilya Bryzgalov played a similar game to his game against the Ducks, giving up three first period goals, including a few he'd likely want back, before settling in and holding the Kings in check over the final 40 minutes. The Coyotes also did a better job of staying out of the box, taking only two minor penalties over the course of the game. It was good to see the team effort pay off with the win and the team will look to build off of this going forward.
Also, as Coach Tippett pointed out in his postgame press conference, the young players pushing the veterans is what every team in the league strives for and will only benefit this team as forwards Taylor Pyatt, Radim Vrbata, and Martin Hanzal all work their way back from injury and know that they will need to keep producing to stay in the lineup.
Bullet point notes taken during the game, comment of the night, three stars and more after the jump...
Here were the thoughts that occurred to me during the game...
- Attendance was very healthy (announced at 15,153) despite the heavy rains in Phoenix - this may not sound like a big deal to those not from Phoenix, but rain just freaks people out here for some reason.
- Coyotes were Czech-free for the first time in a long time, as Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata were both out of the line-up due to injury.
- Pretty first goal on a sweet play from Upshall to Doan taking advantage of LA's inability to clear the zone or control the puck.
- Brad Richardson's goal was just one where Bryz couldn't squeeze the pads enough and it leaked through - looked like it might have hit Anze Kopitar on the way in.
- Ray Whitney's goal came off of a gorgeous feed from Keith Yandle - wide open net to shoot at and nothing Jonathan Quick could do there.
- On their first PK, the 'Yotes were dodging bullets for the entire first minute, but then looked as if they had calmed it down before Drew Doughty blasted one into the scrum in front of the net and it went off of Ryan Smyth and in.
- Whitney completely earned that first penalty driving hard to the net and forcing the take down...and he still almost put it in the net past Quick.
- Great first career NHL goal from Brett MacLean on the power play on a fabulous feed from Scottie Upshall.
- Ed Jovanovski limped off the ice midway through the first after blocking a shot with his shin, but was back out before the end of the period.
- The Kings almost scored a fluky one early in the second when a puck bounced off the glass behind the net and back into the crease forcing Ilya Bryzgalov to make a tough save.
- Doan's second goal on the power play was a clean rip - unbelievable shot there. Again - the Coyotes controlled the play on the power play and it was effective. If the power play is converting like it did tonight, the Coyotes offense should see a nice boost.
Paul Bissonnette rabbit-punched Kevin Westgarth to death for the first half of a fight midway through the second period...kinda what George Parros did to him the night before. They then traded a few haymakers the rest of the way.
- The Kyle Turris - Mikkel Boedker - Brett MacLean line was buzzing around all night. Turris scored on a quick wrister to the high glove side that chased Quick midway through the second after just missing on a shot a few minutes earlier.
- Second period was dominated by the Coyotes as they controlled the pace of play throughout and were rewarded with the only two goals.
- About five minutes into the third Bryz stone-cold robbed Wayne Simmonds of a goal as he streaked to the back side and took a brilliant pass from Michal Handzus.
- As he did in his last two goal game, after scoring his second goal, Doan rang one off the post in the third on a power play; this time off a deflection of a beautiful slap pass from Derek Morris.
OUR THREE STARS
1. Shane Doan - couldn't quite convert on the hat trick, but played a dominant physical game in recording his 36th two-goal game.
2. Scottie Upshall - after going a loooong time without a point, Scottie put up a goal and two assists in the first period. He was buzzing around all game and his feed on MacLean's goal was unreal.
3. Brett MacLean - Keith Yandle gets an honorable mention, but MacLean played an inspired first NHL game and showed the coaching staff that he's ready to play with the big boys. I hope we see some more of that "BMT" line in the next few games.
COMMENT OF THE NIGHT
Ok hit pause
Goto Difficulty options
Change ‘Goaltender Difficulty’
Move from ‘Drunk Toskala’ to ’NHL Goalie:
-TimmyHate describing the pace of scoring through the first period
POST GAME VIDEOS:
I apologize for the shaky quality of these and for some of the sound issues. As I work out the process and the exact way my camera films, these will improve...
The team hits the road for a pair of games against the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild on Friday and Sunday before returning home to face Columbus on Tuesday. Building off of this offensive outburst will go a long way towards closing the gap on some of those teams sitting in front of the Coyotes with 43 points.