When the Coyotes twitter feed and Dave Strader told me pregame that there were going to be big changes to the lines that had gotten us to this point in the season I was worried. The first game of a 4 game roadtrip and you're going to start with all your lines jumbled? Seems fishy. However it turned out fantastically. While there was a bit of a learning curve for a few guys, overall everything was clicking. It helps when your goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov is just vaccuming up every puck that comes his way too.
The only line that was still intact from the Wednesday game was the Taylor Pyatt, Vernon Fiddler and Lee Stempniak line. It was pretty apparent in the first period exactly why that was. Lee Stempniak again came through in a huge way once again putting up two goals in the first. There was even one on the power play. Go figure! Pyatt helped on the second with a nice screen, but the first one was all hard work by Stempniak combined with a little luck to squeeze it past Justin Peters. Stemniak has just been outstanding so far. While Wojtek Wolski was supposed to be the huge acquisition from the deadline but Stempniak has just been on fire. He's now racked up 5 goals and an assist in 4 games with the coyotes. He's a +7 over those four games with an astounding 41.7% shooting percentage. I mean what else do you say about the guy? There's no way he can keep this pace up really is there? I figured he would cool off in this game but nope. We'll see I guess.
He wasn't the only one finding the back of the net. Martin Hanzal was moved to a line in between Shane Doan and Daniel Winnik in order to give everyone a new look and really make one grinding line. Instead Martin Hanzal tallied the second pair of goals for the Coyotes. The first was just a good play and a Carolina player biting on a play in the Corner. He walked right up to the goal and lifted it over the left pad of Justin Peters. Then early in the third he took a perfect pass from Zbynek Michalek and just blasted it past Peters to put us up 4-0.
The first star of the game though and deservedly so was Ilya Bryzgalov. He did everything short of breakdancing to stop the puck, but he never really had to. As the Carolina announce team kept saying he was just moving with a purpose. Every time he made a movement he made a simple one that just took away any chance the Hurricanes had at scoring. He saw the puck incredibly well and stopped several break away chances pretty easily. He earned his 8th shutout of the year tying the team record of 8 which is also held by Nikolai Khabibulin.
The Coyotes turn around very quickly to play the Thrashers at 2 in the afternoon our time. Ugh. I have to wake up early.