Thursday was a big day for Pekka Rinne. He turned 23 years old and signed a 7 year, 49 million dollar contract. To finish off the day he shut out the Phoenix Coyotes in their own barn. For Coyotes fans there wasn't exactly a constant stream of excitement even though the Dogs managed to get 35 shots on Rinne. The Yotes looked drained from their experience in the Mile High City the night before
Rinne's opposition in goal, Jason Labarbera, deserved a better fate than he received. He made save after save in the 3rd period to keep his team in the game. David Legwand could have had a hat trick had it not been for Lababera's outstanding play. Both goals he gave up in the 2nd period were not his fault. The first tally was created by a poor zone clearing attempt that resulted in a Jonathan Blum wrister from the point that squeaked through Barbs pads as he was screened on the play. The 2nd goal was on a two on one break by the Predators. OEL got caught too far into the offensive zone and couldn't get back in time. Craig Smith and Mike Halishuck worked the played perfectly with Smith passing the puck after Labarbera was all the way on the left side of his net. The Preds added an empty net goal by Patrick Hornqvist to add insult to injury with less than a minute to go in the game.
- Martin Hanzal's absence clearly hurt the Desert Dogs. Boyd Gordon is great for what he is, but he doesn't have the offensive skills or size Marty has. As I commented in the GDT, they cleared missed the Czech's presence in front of the net.
- Even with Hanzal gone, his two recent linemates Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata continued to play a confident, patient game. Both had several scoring opportunities during the game.
- Speaking of said scoring opportunities, the Preds did an outstanding of job lifting sticks and keeping the Coyotes off balance even when they possessed the puck. Whitney was robbed of the opportunity to score at least two goals because the Preds were able to tie him up at crucial times in front of the net.
Andy Miele had several opportunities to pot his first NHL marker, but wasn't able to. He was one of the few players who had a jump in their skates all game long.
- Mikkel Boedker missed on several golden scoring opportunities early in the contest including one on a short handed breakaway.
- Shane Doan and Daymond Langkow haven't been the same since Whitney moved off their line. Langkow had a couple of decent chances in the game, but their line doesn't have the same smooth puck movement it did when Whitney was on their left wing.
- In retrospect this game might have been a good one for BizNasty to get a sweater. His energy on the forecheck couldn't have hurt.
- Staying disciplined - Even though they were obviously tired from the night before, the Coyotes only took two penalties in the game. Small comfort in a loss, but a positive sign nonetheless.