Coyotes Struggle Early

Five games into the abbreviated season, the Coyotes have only managed one win, against the Blue Jackets.

Looking back at the losses, 4-3 to the Stars; 6-4 to the Blackhawks; 5-3 to the Sharks; and 4-2 to the Kings, they have been in every game so far. But surrendering an average of four goals per game while only scoring 3.2 makes it difficult to compete and win.

Last season’s finish set the stage for another great one this year, so why the struggle? Some excuses that could be made are: a short training camp (which all teams had) and injuries to Mike Smith (4.62 GAA) Martin Hanzal (2 pts) and Matthew Lombardi (2 pts). However, as head coach Dave Tippett has said many times: there are no excuses and “summer hockey” is done.

After starting the season 1-4, the Coyotes have to fight their way back into the top half of the Conference.

After starting the season 1-4, the Coyotes have to fight their way back into the top half of the Conference.

In other words, the Coyotes have not played complete games. They play a solid two periods, but then seem to let up in the third. Now they sit dead last in the Western Conference and 29th in the league.

There were those who believed the game against Columbus was a must win, after losing the first two. Jason LaBarbera came on in relief of Mike Smith and only allowed one goal. Steve Sullivan put on a clinic, scoring his eighth career hat-trick. Oliver Ekman-Larsson sniped a pair for himself.

The next night, they went into San Jose and took a 3-1 lead with about 13 minutes left in the game. All looked as if it were turning around. Then, Patrick Marleau and Martin Havlat scored 3 goals in a nine minute span to make it 4-3. It’s a similar story in the other games.

In order to get back on track, salvage this season, and return to the playoffs, the Coyotes have to play hockey the hard way and get in a playoff mentality. Tonight’s game against Nashville is the perfect place to start.

The Coyotes are Back

In September, Shane Doan signed a four-year $21.2 million deal to stay in the desert. In December, the Glendale City Council approved a lease aggreement with potential owner Greg Jamison. In January, the NHL lockout was terminated.

Now, returning to the ice, your Phoenix Coyotes!

Below is a video slideshow from Wednesday’s Red v. White Scrimmage.

The songs featured in the video are “The Boys Are Back In Town” by Thin Lizzy and “Back In Black” by AC/DC.

Hockey-filled Holidays

It seems as though the NHL and players association had resolved to end the lockout, only four and a half months too late. In the meantime, hockey in the valley has been going strong. The number one ranked Sun Devils lost their first two ACHA games, split their weekend in Canada, and improved to 22-4 overall on the season. ASU plays their next series this Thursday through Saturday against Oklahoma University and Central Oklahoma.

Sun Devil defenseman Brian parson takes warm ups.

Sun Devil defenseman Brian parson takes warm ups.

Two youth tournaments took place as well. The annual Turkey Shootout and the Coyote Cup. The Thanksgiving tournament was three days of high octane hockey featuring teams from all over the valley and even some out of state teams too. The local teams captured the championship in each division except Peewee A and Bantam A where the Anaheim Jr. Ducks and the Orange County Hockey Club won the title. The Coyote Cup spanned the four days leading up to the new year featuring more talented teams. Once again the local teams nearly swept the tournament. The Midget 18 A Idaho Jr. Steelheads Midget 16 A Jr. Ducks, Bantam AA Jr. Ducks, Bantam A Arapahoe Warriors stood in the way of the sweep.

Former Coyotes player Tyson Nash and I at the alumni game.

Former Coyotes player Tyson Nash and I at the alumni game. (Photo credit Ryan Ricci.)

The Arizona High School Hockey Association held it’s first Coyotes Alumni vs Coaches game during the league’s All-Star Weekend. The alumni team featured former stars like Craig Adams, Cale Hulse, Tyson Nash and Jamie Ram. The coaches lost, despite an intentional own goal from the alumni, but the event was a good time. There was even a special appearance by Howler, who signed autographs with the alumni during the intermission. The following day was AHSHA All-Star Game Day featuring a skills competition and game for each division. Lastly, the AHSHA player and goaltender of the month awards will be recognized at the ASU game against Central Oklahoma on Friday.

A Brophy forward skates the puck up during a recent game

A Brophy forward skates the puck up during a recent game.

That’s all for the intermission report. More hockey after this!

Picture Perfect

The Arizona State Sun Devils D1 hockey team kept their perfect season alive this weekend by beating their rivals to the south, the University of Arizona Wildcats.

With wins of 7-1 and 3-1 on Friday and Saturday, ASU also extended their win streak against U of A to 28. To top it all off, the Sun Devils are #1 in the ACHA: proof the nation should fear the fork.

ASU hockey remained undefeated after sweeping in Tucson on Friday and Saturday

After a dominant performance on Friday in which Kale Dolinski had a hat-trick, Stephen Collins scored twice, and Danny McAuliffe notched a playmaker, the Sun Devils had to battle the full 60 minutes to put the Wildcats away on Saturday.

Over the weekend, goalie Joe D’Elia stopped 64 of 66 shots on goal, including a 44 save performance on Saturday. Arizona State finally broke through late in the third period, scoring a pair to seal the deal.

Despite the two victories, some of the numbers from the weekend were a little shaky: the Sun Devils were only 64% in the circles, and with the man advantage, they only cashed in on a pair.

Face-offs and power plays are key elements of the game that ASU tends to control. However, when playing in the Tucson Convention Center, the atmosphere is different, and areas where the team was strong were weakened by repeated chants of “U-of-A!”

Two areas the top-ranked Sun Devils were lights-out were the shorthanded game, killing all six penalties, and shots on net, out shooting the Wildcats 91-66. Also, captain Colin Hekle extended his point streak to 13 and continued to show why he is the team’s leader.

While Arizona State’s performance was not perfect this weekend, the wins over Arizona give them a 13-0 record. They’ll look to defend their #1 ranking and improve to 15-0 when they take on Oakland and Colorado Thursday and Friday at the Oceanside Arena. Puck drop is 8:30 on Thursday and 8:00 on Friday.

Winter Classic Just a Slice of Collateral Damage

Thirty arenas sit empty during the lockout, but they’re missing more than the players and fans.

The NHL announced the cancellation of the Winter Classic on Friday. The outdoor game that has been the league’s premier event for years is only the latest in a series of casualties suffered during the lockout.

The Phoenix Coyotes have already lost ten home games between October and November. With a deadline sure to approach soon for December games, they could lose eight more. So that’s 18 games fans in the desert won’t be able to attend.

Let’s stop and think outside the fans, though for a minute, and what this means for everyone involved. Jobing.com Arena is sitting empty. The concession stands don’t need people to work them. The team shop doesn’t need as many staff members. There’s no need for ushers…no cold beers here… no popcorn, cotton candy, red rope…and no lemonade, lemonade like grandma made.

Since there’s no ice, there’s no need for Zamboni drivers or the ice cleaning crew that comes on during TV timeouts. Speaking of TV, and subsequently radio, there’s no need for a broadcast team: no Tyson, Matt, Luke and Todd; no guys in the truck grabbing replays; no stats guys; no make-up crews.

Hopefully the league and player’s association can hash out a deal during their Saturday meeting. This lockout literally affects everyone involved in a single game: from the fans to the janitors, from the broadcasters to security.

The Lockout Continues

“Today was not a good day. It should have been, but it wasn’t.”
“It’s clear that we’re not speaking the same language”

These were comments made by NHLPA executive director Don Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday after negotiations failed once again. The lockout, which now entering its fifth week, looked to be over on Tuesday after the NHL offered a 50-50 split of Hockey Related Revenue. Included in the proposal was a guarantee of a full 82-game season starting November 2nd.

NHL fans held their breaths as they awaited the PA’s response on Thursday. Their answer came in the form of three proposals. None of them even approached the 50-50 offer from the NHL, according to Bettman.

There are two ways I can think to describe this situation. The first is the scene from the Mighty Ducks movie, where young Gordon Bombay has a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot at the end of regulation. He hits the post and his team loses.

The second goes a little something like this. Video credit to NHLVideo and Fox Sports.

It was right there, all they had to do was just tap it in the net. Seal the deal and put this lockout behind them.

Fehr did raise a good point in his press conference following the NHL’s rejection of the proposals. Why wasn’t it made sooner, referencing the initial proposal to cut the player’s share by 24 percent.

“Questions I get asked by the players are, is that fair? How could that be fair? How could that be balanced? What do we get out of this deal?”

At this point, it is fair. Without a CBA, the players are not getting paid. So the 57 percent share of HRR the players had prior to the lockout is irrelevant.

Pictures are worth a thousand words. The NHL Memes page on Facebook offers some witty commentary on the lockout and echoes the sentiments of many fans of the game.

As a fan of hockey, please wake up, Bettman, please wake up, Fehr. Time is wasting.

What’s The Call, Ref?

The following video is a brief profile on two officials and their takes on the game. The questions I asked were: how long have you been officiating; what’s your favorite moment; what’s the highest level you’ve worked; and why do you do it?

Kevin Coker and Armand DeForest were kind enough to provide their opinions and they do not reflect the opinion of USA Hockey or AZIOA.