The Angry Budgie Live

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Desert Dogs-a-Howlin - October

The 2011/12 NHL season is finally a go-go! Except no one in the UK can see it on their telly boxes yet! Im sure most of you will roughly know the current wrangling over the NHL's European TV rights deal, so I wont go into it. I'll only say, I do not want to watch the NHL on my computer, I want to watch it on my TV. So, the NHL and ESPN America have until the end of the month to get the NHL on our screens or I shall join the growing list of people who have binned their subscription!

*update* since writing that opening sentance and posting this, Premier Sports have signed a deal to screen live and as-live NHL games in the UK. So, ESPN America has been cancelled and 'hello premier sports' *update*

@ SJ Sharks,The Coyotes opened their season with a trip across to sunny central California to meet the Sharks by the bay, not the easiest of starts, but the Coyotes had one 5 of their previous opening day games. This time would be different, the offseason has not been kind to the Coyotes and they went into the game without their goalkeeping star Bryzgalov. In his place Mike Smith signed from the Tampa Bay Lightning, unfortunately for him, and the Yotes, they had the worst of starts. The Sharks rolled over the Coyotes 6-2, with Smith coming in for a peppering facing 52 shots! Combine that with 3 PP goals for the Sharks you can kinda guess this was a result the Coyotes will be keen to leave behind!

@ Stars, The Coyotes continued their season openers with another road game, this time in the big state, Texas. Where everything is done bigger and better....apparently! The Coyotes headed for Dallas to face the Stars, a team who are struggling as much as the Coyotes are. Perhaps because of this the game was not a barn burner, just 6,306 fans attended the game and witnessed a tight game. The Coyotes were just 27seconds shy of recording their opening win before Eriksson netted to send the game into OT and Penalties. The Coyotes would be disappointed once again as the Stars won the shoot-out and the extra point. At least, for the Phoenix, that visit to Dallas yielded a point and got them off the mark.

@ Nashville, So next stop for the Coyotes road trip was the season opener in the Bridgestone Arena Tennesse. A tough game with a sell out crowd hyped up by an emotional pre-game video tribute to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and to former Pred Wade Belak. The Predators may well have been too wrapped up in the video's as the Coyotes came out and hammered them in the first period. Launching to a 3-0 lead the Coyotes managed to silence the sell out crowd, a big achievement in itself! With LeBarbera in goal the Coyotes were able to keep out the Predators until over the halfway point, despite the s/o going the Coyotes shut down the Pred's and held on for a 5-2 victory. A good win for the Yotes against a talented Predator team, but for me, the stand out stat from the game is, 13 Coyotes players picking up points. The Coyotes do not have too many standout names, but with team production like that, they don't need to! I only hope the Yotes can keep up this kind of point production!

v Winnipeg, The father franchise of the Coyotes jetted into town to take on their transplanted offspring. There had been an exciting build up to this game, would the Jet's show that the NHL made a mistake re-locating them to Arizona? Or would the Yotes show their is life in the desert and life in the Yotes despite all the off ice troubles. A full arena greeted both teams, with a sizeable contingent of Jet's fans, the night would be noisy! Any hope the Jet's fans had of upsetting the Coyotes home opener were dispelled just 34sec into the contest. The Coyotes made the perfect start in silencing the Jet's fans and pumping their own up! Phoenix would control the game and run out 4-1 winners, with second year Oliver Ekman-Larsson having a great night with two goals. The other highlight was a great performance from Mike Smith, posting a 0.948 save percentage! On a night where a loss could have been spun so many ways, the Yotes came up big and put on an impressive performance. Hopefully some newbies in the sellout crowd were convinced to give the Desert Dog's another go!

v Chicago, Next up for the Yotes saw the Blackhawks come to town, this would be another tough test for the Coyotes as the Blackhawks bring a number of skilled players to the fight. The game began and both teams traded goals up until the end of the second period when the Blackhawks held a 3-2 lead. Going into the third the Coyotes performance on the PP sealed their fate in this game. Given two powerplay opportunities not only did they not score, they gave up a short handed goal. Those type of goals really get to me, so it is disappointing to see the Yotes fall victim. Being a Manchester Phoenix fan I know all about poor powerplay performances too! After the high of beating the Jet's this loss is so dissapointing, a good performance against a team like Chicago would have done the Coyotes confidence no end of good!

v Los Angeles, The Coyotes home stand ended with the visit of the LA King's, the Kings seem to be perennial under achievers, especially coming from the success hungry state of California! The Coyotes went into this game 1-1 during this home series and a good performance on home ice would be needed. Sadly that didn't come, and the Yotes were shut-out on home ice by a score of 2-0! For some reason, waking up to this score, im really disappointed with it, I think it's because, against the Blackhawks I didn't see the Yotes getting anything, but against the King's I felt good in hoping for a Yotes win. Reading the recap it sounds like it was a poor performance, not necessarily from Smith in goal, but the team in front. Iv'e got the game recorded so will have to make my mind up then. When the team are keen to improve crowds at the home games are important, and the Yotes are now 1 and 2 at home. That form has to improve, im sure it will, we are still in the early stages of the season!

@ Anaheim, The Yotes travelled to California for their first visit to Anaheim, a game against the Ducks offered the chance for Phoenix to forget about the home shutout versus the Kings. If anything, that game forced the Coyotes into a reaction. It looks like the Coyotes new attitude worked wonders as they forced Anaheim into 15 turnovers and a further 7 takeaways. With that sort of offence its clear to see how the Yotes managed to harry the Ducks into mistakes. The Ducks also pulled Hiller for Dan Ellis, another sign the Coyotes were doing something right! The biggest star of the night was Martin Hanzal, the defensive forward stepped up with a 4 point game with two goals and two assists. It's good to see the Coyotes spread the scoring too, with 4 scorers, including first goals for Yandle and Gordon.

v Dallas, The Stars came back to the Desert for the teams second meeting in a month, the Coyotes would try to get the win that they let slip in Dallas. With the last 6 meetings between them being decided by a goal it should come as no surprise this was another tight game. It was a tough game but the Yotes worked hard and a highlight of which was Shane Doan getting number 300! A fantastic milestone for any player in hockey, let alone the NHL! That goal also saw the Coyotes powerplay problems end, that marker being the first PP goal in 14 attempts! Being a Manchester Phoenix fan, I can understand a frustrating poerplay unit! Going into the last 90sec of the game, just like in Dallas, the Coyotes gave up the lead and the game ended 2-2. No further goals came in overtime and the extra point would be decided by everyone's favourite element of the game.....penalty shootouts! In the end it sounded like neither team wanted to score, 8 rounds.....thats right! It took 8 rounds of penalty shots before the Stars claimed the extra point! Im dissapointed with the loss, but at least the Yotes took a point from the game!

v Devils, After the heartache of another late slip against the Star's fresh in their minds the Coyotes needed to come up big against the Devils! Without Martin Brodeur the Devils luck in the desert was not on their side, without a win in Phoenix since 2003 and an all time record of 3-7-0 the omen's were good for the Yotes. They also got the first goal of the game giving them the early momentum, that goal coming from debutant Patrick O'Sullivan. Despite ending the first period 1-1 the Coyotes were well on top with 19 shots alone in the first session. With the scores tied the Coyotes went on to win period's 2 and 3 by a score of 2-1, giving the Yotes a 5-3 victory against a good New Jersey team. Ray Whitney got deserved recognition after the game thanks to a 3 point game. Despite Whitney entering the twilight of his career at the age of 39, he is having a fantastic scoring start to this season. Whitney and Doan currently lead the roster stats with 10 points each through the first 9 games of the season.

v Kings, After getting back to winning ways against the Devils the Coyotes entertained the Anaheim Ducks in the Jobing,com arena. The Coyotes penalty kill unti played a large part in this game, and helped the Yotes to a 3-2 overtime victory. The Coyotes penalty kill unit has now killed off 34 of the last 37 enemy powerplays, now running at 91.8%! Other big pluses for the Yotes was a big performance from Radim Vrbata who, re-united with Whitney and Hanzal, finished the game with two goals and one assist! Quite often over here in the EPL great goaltending gives you chances to win games. Just look at Stephen Wall for Peterborough and Ben Bown's for Sheffield. Both keepers who will shutout an opposition and win games if given the chance. Mike Smith, who has been much maligned since moving to the desert, put up great numbers and gave the Yotes a chance to win! His save % for the game coming out at 94.9%!

Coyotes ended the month 4-3-2

So that's it, the first Desert Dogs-a-Howlin blog post for The Angry Budgie. Let me know what you think, any changes I should make, anything I should/shouldn't talk about etc...! November's edition is already in the works!

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