The Angry Budgie Live

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Desert Dogs-a-Howlin' - February

February would be a tough month with plenty of games in a short month for the Coyotes, the month would see a fairly even split of home games versus away games. There would be some tough ones, especially against those in the same division as the Coyotes.

v Sharks (W)
The month began with the Coyotes taking on the San Jose Sharks, one of the teams Phoenix will be battling with for play off position in the pacific division. Going into this game the Coyotes had lost to the Ducks with Mike Smith giving up 4 goals on 18 shots. Something had to give, and the bit back began against the Sharks. Smith redeemed himself stopping 32 shots to give the Coyotes a good base and Korpikoski gave the Coyotes the offensive punch they needed getting a pair of goals. Raffi Torres and Hanzal each chipped in with a goal and Radim Vrbata ensured the Coyotes got February off to the best start they could with the empty net insurance goal.

v RedWings (W)
The Wings are a team the Coyotes always struggle with, and always seem to meet in the playoffs. With Hanzal and Gordon back in the lineup the Coyotes were balanced and finally were able to solve their Wings problem. Smith gave the Coyotes another good based to start with, a great 30 save effort and the Coyotes finally got the offence to beat the Wings. Gordon getting things off the best of starts with a short handed effort early on. With each team trading a goal in the second period it came down to an Empty Netter to seal the points for the Coyotes. With Hanzal getting the insurance with less than 30sec to go.

@ Stars (W)
The Coyotes made the short...ish trip south to Texas to take on the Stars and hope to get much needed points off a division rival. Mike Smith continued his great form with a 28 shot save effort and with the Phoenix scoring spread over 10 players the Coyotes got a deserved win against the Stars. Yandle got the Coyotes train rolling and goals from Vrbata and Torres kept it moving before Derek Morris got his first of the season to add the icing on top. Lhetonen in goal for the Stars had a worrying moment stopping a slap shot with his head, credit to him he stayed in the game for the Stars. For the Phoenix Yandle left the game during the third with a lower body injury but nothing too serious.

v Flames (W)
The Coyotes returned to the Desert to take on the Calgary Flames, having been back in 12th place just a week ago, the Coyotes recent hard work has seen them return to the playoff hunt. With Mike Smith putting in another impressive performance between the pipes, Phoenix were able to beat another playoff contender and extend their recent winning run. Taylor Pyatt got the Coyotes on the board first, but Olli Jokinen pegged them back. With the game going into OT the Coyotes were guaranteed at least a point but, one thing that typifies this Coyotes team is hard work and a will to win. This was evident when Shane Doan scored a one time shot with just 1min 53sec in OT to give the Coyotes the W!

v Blackhawks (W)
Perhaps all the omens coming into this game were giving the Coyotes the edge before it began. Three weeks prior the Blackhawks had the best record in the NHL, one week ago the Coyotes were 13 points behind Chicago and, with Mike Smith getting a shutout in this game. The tables have turned! With Jeremy Roenick in the house to be inducted to the Coyotes 'Ring of Honor' the Coyotes had a reason to play. Kyle Chupchura got things going with a fight less than two minutes into the game which got the, standing room only, crowd going. Vrbata and Gordon got the scoring going for the Phoenix and, after his earlier fight, Chipchura capped off his game with the Phoenix 3rd in a 3-0 shutout of the Blackhawks,

@ Canucks (L-SO)
The Coyotes winning run would be sorely tested on this visit to the cold north west and the Vancouver Canucks. A team boasting the offensive talent of the Sedin twins are almost always guaranteed to score. With LeBarbera giving Mike Smith a rest the Coyotes 5 game winning streak came to an end with a shootout loss to the Canucks. Yandle's eight goal of the season cancelled out Booth's earlier score for the Canucks. LeBarbera was left frustrated after conceding the game winner in the 6th round of shots. A sign of how fare this Yotes team has come is how frustrated they are with the loss. Any team would be pleased to get anything from Vancouver, but LeBarbera and the Coyotes were not. Still a loss was recorded but the leaderboard point total is kept ticking over!

@ Kings (W)
Heading back south along the pacific coast the Coyotes next stop was Staples Centre and the LA Kings. This game would not be pretty, each team are involved in the playoff race and this one would not be for the purists! Four fights and 40 penalty minutes in the opening period alone set the tone for the night. Maybe it was not a surprise that the game was settled by a solitary goal. Phoenix put up a big effort in the third period restricting LA to just four shots in the first 15 minutes and denied the Kings on their 6 on 4 advantage for the final 90 seconds. Mike Smith got his fourth shutout of the season and the red hot Vrbata's 27th of the season gave the Phoenix the win and got them back on winning ways.

v Stars (W-OT)
Over the past two weeks the mantra for the Coyotes has been simple! Mike Smith will do the shot stopping and Radim Vrbata will do the scoring! That formula has resulted in 15 points from the past eight games. Phoenix got on the board first with Mikkel Boedker scoring in the first period. Mike Smith ended the game with 30 saves and Vrbata got his 10th game winner with an overtime effort just 1min 15sec into the OT period, The Stars Michael Ryder scored an impressive mid air goal to tie the game but the Coyotes ground out another win, their second of the month against division rivals the Dallas Stars. A big crowd in the witness the legend Alice Cooper perform the ceremonial puck drop on Alice Cooper Bobblehead Night!

v Kings (W-SO)
After their previous 'Battle of Los Angeles' something wasn't right for Phoenix at the start of this game. A poor beginning saw the Coyotes 3-0 down after the first session. The Kings had goals from Doughty, Loktionov and Brown to give them a comfortable lead the Coyotes would have to show some desire and fight to get back into this game. The Coyotes got the perfect star in the second period with Vrbata getting a power play goal after 50 seconds! Shane Doan got his first of two in the period on the powerplay and his second came after Williams for the Kings had scored. Though the comeback was not complete the outlook on the game was far rosier than it had after the first! Vrbata is on fire at the moment and what a time to get his 30th of the season, with less than three minutes to go his 30th came on the poerplay and tied the game sending it to OT and penalties. In the third ound of the shoot out the experienced Ray Whitney secured the extra point for the Coyotes to keep the Coyotes train rolling.

@ Flames (W-SO)
In a month of pairs the Coyotes headed back north to Calgary to try and secure their second win over the Flames in a month. For the second game in a row the Coyotes had a poor first period where they found themselves down a pair of goals. Much like the Kings game the Coyotes determination and will to win would see them haul themselves back into the game. While the first was the Flames, the second was the Coyotes. Goals from Langkow and Doan brought them level and Whitney gave them the lead in the third. Jokinen tied it again on the PPG for the Flames and, with no goals in OT, the game would go to penalty shots. The second in a row for the Coyotes. It was down to Whitney again to score the game winner in the shootout and ensure another pair of points headed back to the desert.

@ Oilers (W)
At the beginning of the month the Coyotes looked to be falling out of the playoffs, this game and the win, saw them climb to the pacific division summit. Mike Smith backstopped the team with another superb effort turning aside 21 shots and the senior players putting up the offense the Coyotes beat Edmonton 3-1. The first period start gave the Coyotes the edge with goals from Ekman-Larsson and Whitney. Nugent-Hopkins got one back for the O's but Shane Doan got his 20th of the season towards the end of the third to secure another win.With the win the Coyotes swept Alberta to head home to the desert.

v Canucks (W-SO)
After losing a shootout in Vancouver this was a chance for the Coyotes to exact revenge and cap an amazing February. In a sign of how hot the Coyotes currently are, even the NHL's best team could not stop them on home ice. Vancouver got the first goal of the game in the first period on the powerplay, but the Coyotes tied things up through Ray Whitney in the third. For the second time the extra 5min session couldn't separate either team and it was down to a goalie duel. However this time Mike Smith would emerge victorious, As he has so many times this month Ray Whitney scored on the shoot out and, with Boadker also scoring, the Coyotes rounded out February at the top of the Pacific division and a record of 11-0-1 month.

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