Sunday, October 01, 2006

Coyotes vs. Ducks Recap

Good Luck Mike Zigomanis

Years ago, University of Florida Athletics published a media guide that depicted a croc on the cover instead of their true mascot, the alligator. The Coyotes have a similar Dooooh! going. The schtick in the Glendale Arena is to get the crowd to howl like a coyote when the Yotes go on the PP. They run a video on the Jumbotron of a grey wolf standing on a frozen tundra as part of the deal. I'm guessing it's because an arctic wolf is a hell of a lot more menacing than a coyote. The one I hit on I-10 was the size of a cocker spaniel. And they don't howl much. They yip and squeal.

This was the last game of the preseason for both clubs, and the Coyotes had a couple of "bubble guys" in the lineup. Ex-Hurricane, and erstwhile St. Louis Blue, Mike Zigomanis, was one, and he played a pretty well over the first two periods. In the third, he took a bad hooking penalty (bad call vice bad penalty) and for some reason dropped the puck in no-mans land to start a Duck rush the other way. He didn't play very much at crunch time. The Coyotes are running a web feature about Ziggy's run at a roster spot. Looks like Phoenix management hope he makes it. So do I.

The play of a couple of Coyotes jumped out last night. Joel Perrault is a kid I had never heard of, until last night. He was a playmaker all night. He plays with his head up and seems to have a good sense of where the play is going. He also and netted the game winner in OT on a sweet one-timer from Jovocop.

Keith Ballard: This kid is fearless and he jumps into the rush at every opportunity. He reminded me a lot of Danny Markov. Ballard also delivered the night's signature hip check on Chris Kunitz (?). He also took the game's only run at Chris Pronger - got to have stones to do that, eh?

Chris Pronger: I've seem Pronger live on two occasions over the last two years. It's amazing how guys pull up short or dump bad passes whenever they get in the neighborhood of his wheelhouse. During one PP, he cut into the slot from the point and got hooked by Comrie. He blew through the hook and got off a baseball swat at a waist-high floating puck. He nailed it, but missed the net...but not by much. His ability to keep the puck in the zone with hands, feet, stick and his larch-like physique is really remarkable. He always has a sense of where the puck is going to be and he gets there first.

Keith Yandle: This is a kid the Coyotes seem high on. I was unimpressed. He seemed Tverdovsky-like. Tentative, ducking under contact and floating.

The Dinosaur Legion: Owen Nolan, Mike Comrie and Jeremy Roenick. Comrie looked great. He was creative with the puck and nasty on the forecheck. Nolan and Roenick were non-factors all night and retired to the whirlpool after the second period. Must have been all you can eat apple sauce and Jello night at the American Legion hall.

The Ducks Two-Headed Blueline Monster: The Ducks blueline will get the lion's share of the pub this season. Pronger and Niedermeyer were paired for the first shift on every Duck PP, and you couldn't not watch how they operated along the blueline. On one PP, Niedermeyer whipped a wrister across the face of the goal and off the blade of a cutting teammate trying to engineer a deflection. This didn't look like a pass made to a cutting teammate. Scotty seemed to be using his teammate's stick to engineer a scoring opportunity. The other guy just seemed to remember the rule about keeping your stick on the ice around the net. The puck deflected off the surprised forward and up into the netting, but it was still a remarkable look into how Niedermeyer processes the game.

The Coyote Blueline: That being said, I think the Yotes blueline talent goes deeper. Ballard and Boynton, Morris and Jovocop, followed probably by Michalek and Seidenberg. I was really impressed with Derek Morris last night. I know I bad-mouthed him in my Team Dillinger post, but he was fast and poised with the puck - even in a scrum, and was by far the best at quarterbacking the breakout.

Didn't get to see Andy McDonald, Gorgeous Georges or Teemu Selanne.

The Ducks new road whites looked kind of generic from section 201. Still don't miss the eggplant and teal.

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