You may have wondered why it was Saturday and there had not been a "My Game of the Week" post, but...come on...you seriously cannot be surprised that this, the highly talked about homecoming of the Phoenix Coyotes team, would be my game of the week.
Not that I wouldn't have been watching anyway, but all this meant is that I was not flicking to other games. (Note to self: scheduling MGOTW on a Saturday will not be a normal thing - too many other games went unseen today).
Anyway - here you have the random thoughts of the night as they were jotted down by NHTP. Please note, this was the Columbus broadcast of the game on Fox Sports.
*Columbus team was very complimentary of Phoenix, Shane Doan, and Peter Mueller. Said they were not getting enough credit for what has been a very good start.
*Because of the Columbus broadcast, I did not get to see the opening intros, sadly. They did however say the building was "electric" and it was great to see the Coyotes using their situation as a rallying cry.
*The anthem was one of the best renditions of the American national anthem I have heard in a while. Very moving.
*When I saw Prucha on the bench I did in fact scream. It's a weird relationship we have with athletes, through the glow of TV or the space of an arena. And having a favorite athlete is something even more difficult to describe. I was devastated he was hurt and wanted so badly for him to be able to be a part of this. There is such a personal connection to some players and, for me, Prucha is one of those you can't help but want to cheer for. It was a big sigh of relief when he threw a hit and completed his shift.
*Phoenix, they say, has more leadership on D this season, with a sprinkling of young talent up front. The average age of the Coyotes is now 28. Maloney has done a good job to make the team more well rounded and slightly older.
*Among tonight's scratches, former Ranger Lauri Korpikoski. "Good little player, guy will fit right into the system here with Dave Tippet. Good speed."
*Upshall absolutely nailed Tyutin with a hit that brought the crowd up.
*The All-Czech line for the Yotes tonight was Prucha, Lang, and Vrbata. They talked about the "glorious opportunities" they had Wednesday in Pittsburgh. They have "good puck control and they love to score goals." Yes, they do!
*I'm not sure if Mikeal has changed the pronunciation of his name but all night it has been Bod-i-ker to the Columbus group.
*Tonight was the 3rd home opener Columbus participated in. San Jose, Vancouver and now Phoenix. Ken Hitchcock called it "the third circus."
*Easy goal for Rick Nash on a tic-tac-toe play. He has made a good career of playing against this Coyotes team. (Just remember than goal in January of 2008 that made highlight reels!)
*Stat #1 - Most Road Goals in 2008-2009. Nash/Parise/Vanek all had 23. Eric Staal and Ovechkin had 22.
*Winnik and Fiddler were so close on a short handed chance. Fiddler then got high sticked. "Fiddler went down like he was shot." "Went down like there was a sniper up here in the press box." "A Fiddler in Nashville. How beautiful is that." hehe
*I realize I still like Columbus and will root for them to do well. But it is just plain odd to not see Manny Malhotra on this team. I still don't get that one.
*Columbus liked the Phoenix situation to a "soap opera that has now gone the other way." They said - again - Maloney has done so much to get some positives here by piecing together players.
*Kristian Huselius favorites - Athlete: Roger Federer, Vacation Spot: Paradise Island, Food: Filet Mignon
*Fiddler took down Nash after a faceoff. Nash continued yapping at Vernon from the bench.
*Okay, if anyone can explain the girls in red feathered outfits on the ice during the intermission, I'd be much obliged.
*If you can believe it, 7 years ago today Rick Nash scored his first NHL goal. They showed an interview clip of him. He wanted to stay in Columbus because he loves the city, the organization, and he felt "unfinished business." Wants the fans to get to experience more of playoff hockey. He really wants to be "the leader to lead it."
*Nash also said he thinks it's good to have more young players be captains in the league because the league is so young and he feels it may be easier for young kids to talk to a younger captain, and that it's easier for him, as a young captain, to relate. I hadn't really thought about it that way at all. Interesting take.
*Stat #2 - Highest +/- since 2007-2008 season. Pavel Datsyuk +74, Nicklas Lidstrom +72, Duncan Keith +64, Jan Hejda +48, Johnny Oduya +46. They said how Hejda is underappreciated in the league. That may be true but personally I'm still trying to figure out how Johnny freakin' Oduya is on this list!
*I don't know if the PHX team is nervous but they are not looking insync. Their powerplay (they had tons on the night and even 5-3 time) is better than it shows tonight.
*Prucha tap tap taps his stick to the ice to try to trick the Columbus player into giving up the puck. I've seen him do it before. Didn't work, but it's a clever try.
*"Jackets are all over them like a wounded Coyote right now." Umm, yeah...
*83% of texters to the Columbus broadcast think Rick Nash will score more than 40 goals this year. I am not going to bet against him for that.
*Garon has been THE difference in this game, especially on the PK. He has made so many saves, some very good. The best one, "a game saver" on Martin Hanzal while the Coyotes were shorthanded. "Gotta be good to be lucky." Garon was both tonight.
*Adrian Aucoin breaks his stick in anger after Umberger is able to put in the empty netter to seal the game.
*Garon stopped 36 shots and got a shutout in his debut with Columbus.
*The announcing team called this the first win over Phoenix in 2 seasons. Which confused me because maybe they didn't win last year, but that game between these two teams where Nash had THAT goal I was talking about - Columbus did win that game and that was January of 08. So...?
*Although the real 3 stars of the game were Garon/Brzgalov/Nash, the Columbus broadcast gave Upshall the 3rd star for "heart and soul" and bringing "a lot of energy to the team."
Overall thoughts - the game was hyped. I heard the atmosphere was electric. Unfortunately that did not come across on TV. It was a good broadcast, but there was nothing special. It was very slow moving for me. A lot of that had to do with Garon and the Blue Jackets completely taking the energy from the Phoenix team. And that happens. There was nothing much more the Coyotes could do in terms of taking shots - again 36 on the night. You'd like to think one or two would have gone in, but Garon was just a wall tonight.
I wanted better for them, but games like that happen. You run into hot goalies. Either way, a night spent watching hockey is never a night I regret.