Monday should have been the first preseason game for the Coyotes, but due to an electrical issue that caused an ice issue at Gila River Arena, the game has been cancelled.
I was able to observe three days of camp, and I have some thoughts.
It’s very strange to watch a training camp with no Shane Doan, Mike Smith or Dave Tippett. They have been a staple for camp as long as I have been writing about the Coyotes. But, watching the new core work together, its a change that was coming and needed.
Rick Tocchet is an interesting coach to watch during camp. Dump and chase is not a thing anymore. Shot passes into the zone is the way to go, keep possession and go for it.
The groups were split with varying levels of experience this year. A mix of veterans and rookies and AHLer’s at the start, but on Monday they were split into groups that could be the AHL team and the NHL team.
Moves like Chayka
Watching practice on Sunday was interesting as John Chayka was moving in and out of the trainers offices, which turned out to be the Jason Demers trade. It was nice to see a smile on his face for the first time this season.
With the addition of Demers, the Coyotes top 4 defenders are now one of the scarier in the Western Conference. Chayka also dumped the Jamie McGinn contract and didn’t have to retain salary, he may actually be magic. (Or the Florida Panthers is just in a lot of trouble.)
The Coyotes will be having their first two preseason games away from Gila River Arena before heading home for a game against the Sharks on Saturday. With games against the Ducks (tonight) and the Flames (on Friday), we will be seeing interesting mixes for each game.
With only having six preseason games now, instead of seven, I think the Coyotes will be able to pare down their roster quicker than most seasons.
Roster Stuff... and Things...
The Roster could look like what Sarah McLellan tweeted on Monday morning, with the addition of Demers as Goligoski’s partner.
Forward lines: Domi-Stepan-Duclair/Crouse-Dvorak-Keller/Martinook-Richardson-Rieder/Perlini-Strome-Fischer.— Sarah McLellan (@azc_mclellan) September 18, 2017
Defensive pairings: OEL-Hjalmarsson/Goligoski-Schenn/Connauton-Clendening/Joseph-Campbell.— Sarah McLellan (@azc_mclellan) September 18, 2017
Goalies are Raanta and Domingue.— Sarah McLellan (@azc_mclellan) September 18, 2017
I have a feeling that Nick Merkley is making a case for himself to stay with the squad. He could have an opportunity just like Jakob Chychrun did last year.
Speaking of Chychrun
Jakob Chychrun was spotted at practice on Saturday, watching with no crutches, brace or taped up knee. He looked good and had no visible limp. Hopefully he can start to skate soon so he comes back sooner this season than most are thinking.
With the trade for Demers, I now feel more confident about the team than I did on Saturday. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is skating like himself again. Brad Richardson hasn’t lost a step after his traumatizing injury last season. Tobias Rieder seems to have recovered from his ankle surgery well from may.
The team of scrappy players is slowly transforming into a team of high end prospects, an elite defenseman, solid reinforcements and the possibility of a great goaltending duo.
We won’t know what can happen to the Coyotes this season, as Mike Babcock said about the Leafs last season. ‘Pain is coming.’
Pain may be coming for the Coyotes as well, but that pain may be inflicted on other team, not just our own.