Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rangers/Coyotes Preview. . .

Well, for those who read NHTProductions (those who have stuck through the time where the blog has been dark) they know we don't do game previews here. It's just never been a part of the lineup.

However, considering these are my teams, the two teams I watch night in and night out, I thought I'd take a few minutes and preview tonight's tilt in the desert between the New York Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes!

Last 10: 3-6-1, Lost 4
Road Record: 12-10-3
Conference Standing: 9
Division Standing: 4
Goals For: 138
Goals Against: 150
Most Goals: 29 (Gaborik)
Most Points: 61 (Gaborik)
Top Goalie Stats: Hank - GAA: 2.40, S%: .920, Wins: 22, SH: 2

Last 10: 5-4-1, Won 2
Home Record: 20-8-2 (3rd best behind VAN, CHI)
Conference Standing: 4
Division Standing: 2
Goals For: 147
Goals Against: 141
Most Goals: 18 (Upshall)
Most Points: 39 (Doan)
Top Goalie Stats: Bryz - GAA: 2.35 S%: .918, Wins: 28, SH: 5

Since losing 3 games in a row earlier this month, the Coyotes have won five of their last seven games, including four of their last five at home.

After winning two in a row and scoring a combined 14 goals in those games two weeks ago (v. MTL and TBL), the Rangers have dropped four straight, two at home and two on the road.

The Coyotes had a thrilling 5-4 comeback win on Tuesday night versus Detroit. They trailed 4-2 late in the game, but scored two goals in the final 1:30 to tie the game. Captain Shane Doan then won the game on a beautiful goal against Jimmy Howard in overtime.

The Rangers had what many would argue was one of their poorest efforts versus Carolina on Wednesday night. They generated just four shots in the first, and went down 2-0 in the games beginning minutes. After scoring to make it 2-1 early in the second, the Rangers gave up the 3rd Carolina goal just 41 seconds later, putting the game handily out of reach.


The Rangers are fundamentally unsound. They shocked everyone by scoring 14 goals in those two combined games versus Montreal and Tampa Bay but since their 3-1 win in Boston on January 10th, they've been shut out FOUR times, and have scored only four goals in their other three games, all losses. They think the West coast trip is coming at the perfect time, but the Rangers have not shown to be good on West Coast trips in recent memory. Avery talks about needing to get the team on the same page, and Prospal talks about needing to practice more. The main problem is that they can't score, and if Gaborik isn't scoring, which he hasn't been, this team has proven exactly what they are: not good enough.

The Coyotes, after struggling in early January and seeing the brilliant Ilya Brzygalov become slightly less brilliant, have looked much better as of late. For those that don't know them, they don't score tons (although they have scored more than the Rangers) but they play as a team, and get goals when needed, from different sources in different games. They play tight defensively, provide strong puck support, and play a team game that doesn't give opposition much room to move. If they get down, they feel they can come back (ie: Tuesday's game versus Detroit, and a game against the Islanders where they trailed 4-0 and came back to get a point). Even more so, when they do things wrong and they don't play "Coyotes hockey," they know it and they don't need to be told what to correct. They are the team that everyone (almost) was surprised about and that no one expected to still be around, but they are. Their biggest difficulty will be if leading scorer and team leader Scottie Upshall is out for any length of time.


Korpikoski scored both Phoenix goals in Phoenix's loss to the Capitals a week ago, and was one of two Coyotes to score in the shootout win versus Calgary Thursday night. He's been what Don Maloney calls one of his nicest surprises. He's not flashy, but he's good on the PK, strong on the puck, and has gotten A LOT of big shootout goals for the Coyotes this season.

Team favorite Petr Prucha has been a big part of Phoenix's top line this season. Often matched against the other teams best lines, they play shutdown, in addition to providing much needed offense. Vrbata is second in goal scoring with 16, and Prucha is 4th with 11. It really has been a resurgence for the former Ranger in Phoenix as he has scored more goals than he did in any season since 06-07 and has seen his shooting percentage rise to it's highest point in the last three seasons. A renewed confidence has shown in increased puck control, cycling, and something that may surprise Rangers fans: faceoffs. Prucha takes a good amount of his lines faceoffs, even with having someone like Martin Hanzal, on his line and has done well enough to be called upon more as the season has progressed. A smile always on his face, he's fit in well and easily with his hard-working team in Phoenix.

Rangers draft-pick Jason LaBarbera (3-4-1 in 10 games) will get the start for the Coyotes tonight against his former team.


Overall, nothing looks overly promising about the Rangers road trip into the West against three really tough opponents that begins tonight. This could be a blowout game for Phoenix if their sticks are hot, and even if they aren't, the Rangers haven't exactly proven they can light the lamp recently, so this may prove to be a 2-1, 2-0 type game in the end.


Well I can't be disappointed EITHER way, but I think the one thing all Prucha fans can hope for is that he has a great game against his former team. A hat trick would be the ultimate, but any goal would be nice.

Honestly, if it's a good game, as good as I've hoped it'd be all season as I looked forward to it, I'll be happy.

HNIC Wrap-Up ~ 1/23/10 (A Week Late!). . .

Week late again - I hope this is not becoming a trend...I apologize. Not trying to leave NHTP a desolate place as much as I have recently. Maybe I'll be able to catch up on life once the Olympics start. Oh..right...I'll still be watching hockey. ;) Anyway...

Last Week on HNIC:

Before Cassie Campbell asked Tortorella about it, the guys at HNIC had a good laugh about the Brooks/Tortorella clip from the post-game from Thursdays game versus Philly.

Their comments:

Milbury: "I'm going to score that Tortorella/Brooks thing a draw; I mean Larry Brooks hung right in there. He can be abrasive as all get out, but Tortorella went right after him. What can a coach do, you have to address it, get it out in the open once in a while when you think you've been mishandled by the media, and then you gotta move on which he has."


Hrudey: "I'm sure this will surprise a lot of people too. I'm actually going to brag about Sean Avery. Here's a guy that I've been awfully critical of for a long, long time now but you have to hand it to him." [He goes on to talk about how impressed he was with this play versus the Flyers.]

"There's not shame to me in losing a fight. It's battling for your teammates...Aaron Voros and the rest of the teammates were awfully proud of Sean Avery. I've gotta tell you, when he plays like that, and he doesn't yap off, I like him."

Milbury: "Where were the rest of the Rangers in that game? After the Carcillo incident with Gaborik, there should have been an immediate response. There was none. Avery was one of the few that showed up to got it done."

You know how much I hate it when I agree with Milbury but...

After Hours:

I actually got to catch After Hours live last Saturday, so I had some Twitter comments about it, but how fun was it to have Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews BOTH on After Hours? Loved it! I want more teammate pair interviews; they are almost always fantastic.

The good thing about doing this a week late, you get to see it yourself, as a kind stranger has posted on Youtube. First are Parts 1 and 2 for Patrick Kane and 3rd one is both Kane and Toews. Enjoy!

Part 1 - Kane

Part 2 - Kane

You know, as much as people may have changed their thoughts (understandably) about Kane during the last year, I still think two things:

1) He is pretty well-spoken. He has gotten better surely as he's been in the league a few years, and he's being asked to speak much more often. I enjoy listening to him, especially when he throws in some reminders of how young he really is, ie, "pretty girls walking up and down the street." He is what he is and I enjoy him. Time will tell just exactly what type of person he truly is, but if you can separate the two, and sometimes you have to, I still love him as a player and love to watch him grow as such.

2) He is a first class talent. He is one of those guys, perhaps, you want to cheer for because he is one of the smaller guys. He scores some amazing goals. And he is someone, as an American, we can cheer for in national tournaments hopefully for years and years to come. And, as much as I do not root for players for where they are from (at least not intentionally), it is wonderful to see a guy that will hopefully join guys like Modano, Richter, Leetch, Tkachuk, Hull, Chelios, etc, in the glory of American national competition. We'll see how he does in just a few short weeks in his first Olympic appearance in Vancouver.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Avery Quotes: "Be a Ranger". . .

Well it's funny (and by funny, I don't really mean haha funny), that I don't write a blog about the Rangers in a week, and essentially (ignoring those two glorious 6-2, 8-2 wins - where did those come from again?), the Rangers are right back where they left off after having back to back shutouts posted against them.


I could have stepped in here and written how amazing it was to watch those games against Montreal and Tampa last week. The way they fought, the way they skated, the way they scored goals. The way they SHOWED UP.

But, the Rangers are the Rangers and we all should have known better. Perhaps I did. I may love this team but they are flawed. And flawed less in talent to me, than in attitude and drive. And that's what makes us all livid. If they aren't good enough, fine. That is what it is. But if they aren't trying. That's all on them. 100%.

I woke up and read The NY Post as I do every Sunday. Like nor dislike Brooks, he is not vanilla, that's for sure.

He has some dandy quotes from Avery, as have been floating around Twitter this morning. The highlights:

"You can say it's a lack of preparation, but that's BS; it's a lack of competitiveness...We do not play hard enough."

"I don't have the explanation for it. I don't know if it's us not holding each other accountable, or what, but it's a total lack of respect for our fans and the organization. It's a joke."

And lastly:

"It's fine if you get beat. It's fine if you compete and get beat, but to play this way . . . that's not what it's like to be a Ranger."

Like him, hate him, love him, loathe him, at least Sean Avery is one of the few players to tell it like it is.

The sad reality is, of course, as fans we like to think we know what it is to "Be a Ranger."

But, after the last 15 years and counting, and with the exceptions few and far between, isn't the reality of "being a Ranger" less about what it should be and more about exactly what we are seeing: laziness, half-efforts, blase attitude.

I HATE to say that. I praise Avery for realizing it should not be so.

But when does "Being a Ranger" mean Pride, Passion, Tradition, like I used to think it meant. Loyalty to a sweater. Passion for a game. Pride for an organization that had been around for over 80 years.

Sean says he gets it. But is that enough?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

HNIC Wrap-Up~ 1/16/10 (A Week Late!)

Tonight, be sure to catch the HNIC pre-game show, Hockey Tonight. As the Rangers are in Montreal, you may see some familiar faces. (NHL Network - 6:30pm for those in the States).

Meanwhile, it's been one of those weeks so I'm just now getting to LAST week's show, here's what we missed:

* The Ron McLean interview with Colin Campbell. I missed it (obviously) but heard rumblings about it on Team990. And there was apparently some bad feedback to the CBC on it, from Burrows parents, even. How their son was being shown in a bad light.

I think McLean did fine (and I'm a big fan of his). I think he did fine with how he conducted the interview.

In the case of Burrow's parents, I perhaps can see what they were saying. For those that didn't watch, they showed kind of a "this is what Burrows has done" timeline with video and, yes, some of it paints him like the "Sean Avery of the West." Surely. But I think it wasn't done badly. I don't.

And let it also be said, "Burr, what are you thinking Burr..." constantly laughed about here didn't make it clear, I am a Burrows fan. I think he can be a punk at times, and I certainly didn't appreciate his whack to Vrbata's leg late last year, but I don't think he goes out there to injure anyone. I think he is a little bit of a pest. I see the similarities to Avery, too, but again, I don't make apologies for Avery. He is a good hockey player. And even though we've seen players like Anson Carter benefit from being on a line with the Sedins, I'm pretty sure Burrows has paid his dues in his journey to the NHL and he's here because he too is a good player and can play with those boys.

* On After Hours, Bill Guerin was a guest. Who doesn't appreciate Billy Guerin? He's just a high class guy.

The funnier parts were when PJ Stock joined in via video. Here is some of what was said:

Oake: PJ Stock counts you, I think, as his best friend in the game of hockey. And you're even willing to own up to that.

Guerin: I am. I accept that position. PJ is a great guy and a good friend for a long time. So it's good to see him doing well out here.

PJ: ...Buddy, that's the worst Tom Selleck moustache I've seen in a long time. Why?

Guerin goes on to explains that the day before games, they have a shootout contest, and the loser on the 1st of the month has to grow a moustache for the month and be "moustache boy." LOL!

PJ: What toll did it take on your body, with that shortened summer, especially at your 46, 47, you are at now, how has that short summer affected you this year?

Guerin: Yeah Stocky, it's kinda funny, I'm creeping up there. But unfortunately for you, you stopped growing at the age of 12. I kept going until about 18, 19, 20.

Oake: Hey PJ, thanks a lot for contributing to the program tonight, we really appreciate it.

PJ: Anytime I can carry you Oakie, anytime. See ya Billy, good luck.

Healy: Good questions.

Oake: PJ had to run off to the Irish Embassy. Going to try to catch Rudy there.

Billy, when aked about the US Olympic team, said he felt very confident in the group of players that Burke had put together, that they could do very well. He spoke about a passing of the torch. He had his time; it's their time now.

Good stuff, they should invite PJ in more often to contribute to After Hours, and Bill Guerin is always a treat.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Few Ramblings Thoughts on the NYRs. . .

A few thoughts, some long overdue, that have been floating around in my mind for the last while, especially given the last week of fun that was being a New York Rangers fan.

The Rangers scored last night. Really that shouldn't be news, but it is. Because they can't score. Or they won't score. And they hadn't scored in over a week - literally - after being shutout at home twice in a row.

I knew they'd have problems scoring, but come on now...

The game against the Bruins was up tempo and great, a real put-together effort.

The game against the Devils was frustrating in only that they lost in the skills competition of the hockey menu. (And that thing about Brodeur but I won't digress).

The game against Ottawa was some of the most mind-numbing play (if we can call it that) I've seen in this year. Did they even know they had a game? Should they have to have been told?

The game last night. Well, I kinda had a feeling that, for irony sake, if Voros was in the lineup he'd have something to do with scoring. He had an assist. As the Rangers finally score a goal.

Again, shouldn't be news, but in NYR world, it kinda is.

After the last week of "whatever-it-was" I have a few questions/thoughts/confusions going on.

One (as mentioned in my last entry) I'd read in Rangers Rants that after Erik Christensen missed in the shootout, he had a hard time sleeping.

After the Ottawa game, writer Jim Cerny tweeted that:

Maybe most down post-game locker room all year for #Rangers; Del Zotto, Boyle, Prospal among those really taking it to heart #NYR
10:50 PM Jan 14th from web

We all saw Gaborik's quotes that he said that Ottawa's first goal in the dying minutes Thursday was "his fault" and it "cost us the game."

Every game we see Hank take the burden of the game on himself. I've said for along time, no one takes it harder when the NYRs lose than him. I'm sure he's even hard on himself in games he does NOT EVEN PLAY. Because that's the type of player he is.

So, why, I ask, is is so easy for these players to feel badly. And for others to seemingly not care?

Prospal is a gamer, a Marty Straka type guy. He gets it. He gets what it takes to win and feels bad when they lose.

Del Zotto, the 19-year-old rookie who has had a great year and who makes me happy to be a fan. He gets it.

Boyle, the 4th liner, he gets it.

Gaborik and Hank, the two guys who going into this season we knew would be carrying this team on their back, they get it.

And Christensen, Erik - I wasn't even here a month ago - Christensen, he gets it?

I'm happy these players get it. I am. It just makes me curious who else does?

Does Drury get it? I realize he may not be the captain we expect, or certainly not the player he is paid for, but at what point do you have to, for benefit of the team and the fans, consciously put aside the fact that you are a boring, mumbling human being, and act like a captain. Even if that isn't who you are. At what point do you show the world that you care?

Erik Christensen couldn't sleep the other night.

Did Chris Drury have a problem?


I've spoken before, namely last season, and a lot, about passion and personality, and how it matters.

And it matters less when you are doing your job, surely, and gets magnified, to me, when you are not.

I like this team better. I really do. But more than halfway through, we can come to some conclusions.

*Brashear is useless to this team. I tried to give the benefit of the doubt (to a degree) to start the season. But I think we can safely say that if he was ever to be effective, he is now too old, too injured to do so in any capacity.

It now makes perfect sense (and lacks all sense not) to play Aaron Voros every night in his place. Why? At least Voros seems to care. That much can definitely be said. Not one can, and ever will, show the grace and humility Prucha did when scratched repeatedly, but I think Voros has done an admirable job of taking it. And tell me how he's worse? He skates better, and if the last two Brashear fights are any indication, he may actually fight better at this point. Or at least not fall down anymore.

$1.4 million waste of money. And most of us knew it in July.

* This team will only go as far as Gaborik takes them. Another conclusion we probably could have reached in July. Gaborik is upset he thinks he cost the Rangers one game in January. Marian, how many did you win for them? Seriously, how many games were you the only one scoring, the only one providing any enthusiasm or sense of purpose? And he's on himself because he's not a shootout wizard? Please. Gaby, if you were not here in New York, the Rangers would be holding up Carolina and Toronto in the standings.

* As much as Gaborik is important, vital, to this team, Hank has proven himself to be the backbone. This is Hank's team, guys. No doubt anymore. It doesn't matter that he doesn't wear the C.

- He (and Avery) called that meeting to try to get the team back on track.

- He is very often the reason they win or remain in games they should not.

- He is the guy who you have no doubt - NO DOUBT - tears himself up over this team.

Hank, Hank is the backbone of this team. No question about it.

* Beyond a bright future on defense (I include Staal with Del Zotto and Gilroy), a superstar talent (Gaborik), and Hank, this team is not as good as I thought they were. Not that I thought they were good, mind you. But I thought they were 8th place material, that perhaps they'd fall between 6 and 10th, and hopefully squeeze into the playoffs at 8. They probably aren't even good enough to do that. They'll benefit surely from a weaker East. They may very well get into the playoffs if other teams collapse. But they are a team trying to put it together, not a team with their act together.

* Inconsistency has been the worst part of this team, has it was last year, and times before that. A 60 minutes effort is a rarity. And even when it is there (like Tuesday versus NJ) there is sometimes nothing to show for it. I'm disappointed, for myself as a fan, and for the players that do try so hard. Why should Hank and Gaborik (and Boyle and Del Zotto, and Christensen, and Prospal) beat themselves up all the time? When it's a 20 player game and so many of the rest of them are invisible.

Rangers take on the Habs tonight. I can see this going badly. Since Poulliot has joined the Canadiens, Gomez has looked a real player again. Yep, I can see this being an interesting return trip to MSG.


In happy news, Prucha scored 2 goals (and almost a 3rd) in a 6-4 win over the Wild in the desert last night.

Prucha has 11 goals on the season.

More goals than any Ranger that is not wearing #10 on his back.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Five Things About the Rangers/Devils Game. . .

* This was one of the most exciting games I've seen at the Garden in a long time, and without scoring! It's a rarity where everyone on the ice was so insync for 60+ minutes. The back and forth was almost non-stop. The speed was intense. It was just very easy to get into it.

* Speaking of fans, they were really feeling it. It may have been the rivalty game. It may have been how the Rangers were playing that the fans fed off it, but they were standing, cheering, and much more lively than they'd been in the longest time. Great atmosphere.

* I mentioned it on twitter (NHTProductions) - this was Martin Brodeur's first ever shutout at Madison Square Garden. It's almost staggering that he had not gotten one before this, especially with how bad the Rangers were for such long stretches of time. As a Rangers fan, I hoped I'd never see him do it. Does it make it better or worse that Hank got a shutout too?

* With the 51 shots they had on goal, the Rangers did what they could. Gaborik, Dubinsky, and Callahan had 5 shots each. Girardi, Anisimov, Boyle, Gilroy, Higgins, adn Rozsival each had 4. Only Brashear and Christensen did not participate in the shot parade.

* Disappointing to lose the shootout, certainly. On a few levels. BUT, I had read on Rangers Rants that Christensen was so upset with himself for losing the puck in the shootout that had a hard time sleeping. Isn't this what you want from your players? Not to keep themselves up at night - I don't want him to be THAT hard on himself - but to care. To show they care? I can think of one other person that wouldn't have let missing in the shootout ruin his night's sleep?


Good for Christensen. I've been nothing but impressed with him since he came to the team. Right attitude. He may know it's his "last shot" but made a big difference when Prospal was out.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

HNIC Wrap-Up ~ 1/9/2010. . .

There haven't been HNIC wrap-ups, mostly because the World Junior Championships (Congrats USA) were being shown on NHL Network and when I wasn't in front of the TV on Saturday it became too hard to manually record the CBC broadcasts at the right moment.

Anyway...this made me laugh.

Cassie Campbell interviewed Scott Gomez on Hockey Tonight. Now Rangers fans now how, we won't say silly, but non-serious Gomez appeared during interviews. That much has not changed.

Cassie: Scott has 12 points in his last 10 games. Ron?

McLean: You're amazing. Now you don't like Scott Gomez's game face.

Milbury (mockingly with hand motions): Just happy to be here. $7 million a year.
You've got a big game against New Jersey coming up, have a little serious side. I guess that's just me, though, right, Ron?

The times I've agreed with anything Mike Milbury has said are few, oh so few, and far between. This, however, may be one of them.

I'm still shocked he has 12 points in 10 games. Yikes.


"The PJ Stock Classic today" says McLean, as PJ does update of Rangers/Bruins game, PJs two longest tenured stops in his NHL career. New York was his first team, Boston his last, although he was with the Philadelphia farm club, the Phantoms, when he had his career ending injury. (I MISS YOU PJ!!!)


Top 10 Goals from the Western Conference did not include Prucha's vs Pittsburgh (French Canadian Network RDS did at #3!!!!). It did include a Fred Sjostrom goal at #10 though.


For those that missed (me included) Vancouver and Calgary went to a shootout. Dawes got the first goal in the shootout for Calgary. And after scoring earlier in the game, one time Ranger Jamie Lundmark got the deciding goal in the shootout putting Calgary ahead in the division. A beautiful goal. He was called, "a warrior," "an underrated guy," and "a victim of the salary cap." Named #1 star of the game by HNIC.

"This is just a genious move with unbelievable skill and unbelievable patience."


After Hours presents "The Sedin Triplets" - Henrik, Daniel, and Alex Burrows!

It didn't even take til the first commerical break, before Scott Oake brings up one of my FAVORITE After Hours moments when Alex Burrows does his Marc Crawford impression:

"Burr, what were you thinking there."

LOL! Never gets old.

If you haven't seen it yet, here it is (not super clear but condensed):

The three then proceeded to have a rousing game of who knows their linesmates better.

Burrows not knowing name of Sedin's hometown - minus one.

Daniel automatically knowing "Baton Rouge" was one of the places Burrows toiled in the minor leagues - plus one.

Burrows being able to tell the twins apart (even with a trick!) - plus one.

Sedins not knowing that Burrows was named best ball hockey player in Canada in 2006 - minus one. (Although they both seemed super surprised and happy for him).

Burrows being able to say Hank was six minutes older than Daniel - plus one.

Burrows wins with a +1, but unless I missed a question in there - no fair!

Burrows, when asked about the Sedins soccer deficiency, said they were the two best players on the team but that Hank played with both feet, Daniel only used his left.

I love photo time, they show a picture of Alex Burrows as a model.

Burrows: That's my Calvin Klein ad.

Oake: You know's body that is?

Henrik: Yeah it's not Burrs.

Alex may have been a jerk for slashing Vrbata in the leg late last year, but the guy is funny and he's one of only around 50 players to score hat tricks in back to back games, which he did last week.

Love it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Five Things on the Rangers/Bruins Game. . .

After today's game, I feel the need to ask, "Who are these guys?"

* They were getting to loose pucks, moving the puck swiftly, connecting on passes, dominating the play. And in an afternoon game! Who are these guys?

* Did you hear what Sam said? This team is 4-0-2 in their last 6. 8-3-1 in their last 12. And have had points in 19 of their last 24 games. Who are these guys?

* Michael Del Zotto's goal was beautiful. Ladies and gentlelmen, THAT will never get old! It's been too, too long.

* Think Avery's words about what it meant to put on the Rangers sweater and how they need to play with the pride and energy necessary of it perhaps hit home with anyone? Don't discount Avery's voice in the lockeroom. This was the most dominating effort I've seen from the NYRs in a long while. Beginning to end.

* As much as I have to credit the NYRs, Boston is a decimated team. They are without Savard, Bergeron, Ferrence. And for whatever reason they are not connecting. As pretty as those three Rangers goals were, they Bruins let them have a lot of space to score in. Just saying.

I'm not sure where it came from, I'm not sure if it'll last but - who are these guys?

Those were your New York Rangers!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Yotes: Prucha on the Rise. . .

Helmet tip to the good folks at for putting together a "Prucha Goal Watch" on their site. I was going to do the same, but you know what they say about great minds...

Anyway, in all its glory, you can view Prucha's 9 - count 'em 9 - goals so far this season - Prucha Goal Watch!

In short, and this will be short, I've kept up with the Coyotes about as much as any Rangers fan in New York could. I watch all the games I possibly can (probably 95% so far in some capacity) and even if I miss, make sure I watch Prucha's shifts on the games I Tivo.

My conclusion:

The kid is okay.

He's more than okay.

He's great.

What started after trade deadline last season - a quiet, slow, building of confidence with puck carrying, movement in the offensive zone, using the boards, etc - has now grown into the most full out confidence I've seen from the Czech forward in, well, let's just say way too long.

The Coyotes system is perfect for a guy like Pete. Not saying other ones wouldn't be, but this certainly has given him an opportunity to play a role and be productive, even if he doesn't score.

Coyotes players swarm, provide excellent puck support to one another. If one guy loses it, someone is right behind them.

Prucha works in this. He's the type of player that if he loses the puck, he does everything to get it back, and to his credit, he very often does. Now, he gets it back for teammates too. He backchecks and often is caught making a great defensive play because he's so fast (you listening TR?). On the powerplays he and his Czech mates create a great down low cycle on the puck.

It's refreshing. Truly refreshing.

But the biggest difference as of late - two lovely and glorious goals earlier in the season: one on butt, one on stomach, notwithstanding - has been his ability to do all the above AND shoot the puck.

When Prucha scored his 8th of the season versus Vancouver on 12/29, he had scored more goals than any year since 2006-2007 when he scored 22. And his shooting % was higher than it had been since then as well.

Earlier in the year, he was getting robbed by goalies, literally highlight reel robs.

But he didn't quit. Like we'd expect any differently? Please.

He never quits.

So he stuck with it and he's now shooting, and shooting with a confidence. The more goals he scores, the more the confidence rises.

His goal versus Edmonton on Tuesday, versus former coach Tom Renney, was another example of such. He was passed the puck in the slot and he shot, without thinking, just shot. Puck in net. Goal #9 on the year.

It's refreshing he's shooting. It's wonderful he's scoring.

But best of all, it's just the best thing in the world that he's happy and he's playing.

Good stuff in the desert. And #16 is a big part of that.