Helmet tip to the good folks at 5-hole.com 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.
The kid is okay.
He's more than okay.
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.