Monday, April 6, 2009

Yotes: An Uncanny Trade Deadline Rarity. . .

Darren Pang: "I've never, in all my hockey years, seen three players that came from three different teams be on the same line and have as much chemistry as those three guys right there: Scottie Upshall, Petr Prucha, and Matthew Lombardi. And they stick up for one another. They battle hard for one another. Their on ice synergy is uncanny. You think about it. You are at trade deadline, you bring in three individuals that are all positions that compliment. A left wing, a center, and a right wing and. . .[good natured laughter].

Strader: "Yeah it's incredible."

Pang: "It's uncanny."

You know, it's funny. In the month I've watched Petr Prucha on his new team, I've had similar thoughts. How odd is it to have one of the most consistent lines for the Phoenix Coyotes, be made up of three guys who all came from different teams? It is odd. It is remarkable.

And it's been a pleasure to watch.

Pang: "You see how fundamentally sound that line is. And Petr Prucha makes such great defensive reads. He's always around the puck, always supporting the puck."

Please, seriously, someone go get Tom Renney - RIGHT NOW - and have him read this blog! (kidding, kidding...)

The three of them do have a ton of synergy. A similar mind set. And they come to each other's defense too.

When Pete got knocked into the boards, Scottie Upshall was after the guy smacking him with his stick.

When Gauthier and Upshall (two former Flyer guys) got into a little tussle, it didn't take long for everyone to see the little fireball, Prucha, skate and throw himself onto the pile of guys, coming away with someone.

Pete's the kind of guy that has always done that for his teammates - any of his teammates. This next statement is not a swipe at any Rangers, BUT, it's nice to see his current teammates do the same for him.

Prucha gets smashed again to the boards.

Pang: "He gets hit hard doesn't he, Prucha? And then he just gets right back up."

"All three of those guys - Upshall, Lombardi, Prucha. They get hit, they get up. They go right back to work."

You may ask why I am writing all this, why I continue to keep track so closely of my favorite Ranger departed and where he is now.

I can say, with absolute certainty, that even in the games that the Coyotes have lost, I have had much more enjoyment from watching their team and their effort than I have from watching the Rangers team and effort this spring.

Look, I am - was, always will be - a Rangers fan, but when pepperpot Prucha became a departed Ranger, I got the opportunity to follow a new team. A team that has a lot of young guys, a lot of spark, and are a lot of fun to watch. And Prucha, along with Lombardi and Upshall, have played a BIG part in that. Not just for me, but for Phoenix. They have, all three of them, put up really nice numbers since trade deadline for their new team. And they've looked like they've been playing together for ages.

Which brings me to my next thought. What does it take to get them all to stay there next year? Prucha and Upshall are both RFAs after this season and made comparable money (1.6 versus 1.23 - apx). Lombardi has one year left on a 1.8 million dollar deal after which he is a UFA.

If you are the Phoenix Coyotes, do you want to keep them there? I say, based on what I've seen so far, you'd have to assume yes. Gretzky loves these type of players and while there is a plethora of extra guys, not one of these guys has seen the press box yet.

It's funny too. Strader pointed out a week or so ago that the Coyotes had some 30+ year old vets - the Doans, Klees, Jovos - and some 19 and 20-year-olds - the Turris, Boedker, Mueller crowd - but they lacked anybody in between. That, he said, was another reason GM Don Maloney went after guys like Upshall (25), Prucha (26), and Lombardi (27 ). To provide that balance between the veterans and the rookies. And biased though you may think I am, I think they've filled the role admirably.

So if I'm the Coyotes, I'm thinking yes. I'm thinking these three guys have the right attitude, the right talent, and the right chemistry. And they will not break the bank.

If I'm the players, I say, why not. You fight perhaps your whole career to find chemistry with players. When you get it, you want to hold on to it. If one player makes the others better, and it goes around full circle, you think they'd want to continue that, even for one year, to see how it goes.

Now, that might not be the way all professional athletes do think or will think, but if I were Coyotes management, I'd work hard to make sure all three of these guys were in the desert next season.

**On edit, I just finished skimming/watching the Coyotes/Kings match from Saturday night. Perhaps the first insight into one of the uncanny three's feelings in Phoenix. In being asked about Phoenix and if he's thinking about if he wants to stay next year, Scottie Upshall said:

"This is a great opportunity for us young guys coming in, with a little different atmosphere, more chances to show what you can do. And right now I'm getting to play with some great players and things are good here. I can only say good things about the opportunity I've had and I'm excited about this."

On playing for Wayne Gretzky:

"It helps to have Gretz on the bench patting you on the back when you make good plays and send you out there in key opportunities. It says a lot. I'm excited. I'm back to having fun and playing good hockey."

And there you have it.

**Author's note: Sorry for this being a few days late. Original quotes above were from Phoenix's 2-1 win versus Los Angeles on April 2nd. Following Upshall quote from 4/4/09.**

Rangers in Brief:

In Rangers news, I agree 1000% percent with all Larry Brook's wrote in today's NY Post. I would comment on it, but you know what, he did it perfectly, so I don't need to just yet. I'll bookmark that article and use it when I analyze the Rangers season in a week (or two, or maybe perhaps even three).


Kerri said...

I can say, with absolute certainty, that even in the games that the Coyotes have lost, I have had much more enjoyment from watching their team and their effort than I have from watching the Rangers team and effort this spring.

They are a fun squad, without a doubt. I started watching for Prucha, but I'm totally getting hooked on Lombardi and Upshall. They have so much youth; offically the youngest team in the NHL, aren't they? I'd love to see Montoya succeed with them. If he can live up to all he was cracked up to be, and he becames a legit franchise goaltender, look out. The Coyotes need to a sign a star or two, and suddenly they're in the running, and Phoenix might understand why we're all googly-eyed for hockey.

kels said...

I think Phoenix is tied with someone for 2nd youngest team maybe? They showed a graphic on it on VS I think. NY is one of the younger too. I wish I could remember. I will see if I can check.

And I agree. Lombardi and Upshall both almost got lost on their old teams bc they had so much talent. Now to see individually what they can do, I am impressed. I really want to see how the team fares next year.

As for Montoya, I think that would be great. I'm in his corner.

They need another pickup or two or three but I really think they are in pretty good shape.

Guess they need Sauer big time tho. Guy went down and that's when the team turned to crap post ASG.

kels said...

To clarify, Calgary and Philly both had so many players that I think Lombardi and Upshall got lost a little.

Kerri said...

Yeah, if they get Sauer back, resign some of their free agents, get a big scorer, and if Montoya or their other-goalie-whose-name-I-can't-spell (Tjordman?) pull through... they are in wonderful shape.

I wish them luck even if Prucha's in a new sweater in October.

In some ways, I think the hockey gods wanted to crush my superiority complex. You know. That "original-six, north-of-the-mason-dixon-line" thing. I root for the Rangers, and the Habs, and sometimes the Red Wings. I always had a problem with expansion. I don't take back my reasonings for being against expansion.

HOWEVER, I have much more sympathy for Phoenix fans, and fans from the South and Cali and other areas new to hockey. My boyfriend calls it "payback" for my snotty attitude. (He just thinks I'm snotty because he's an ISLES fan, lol.)