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No. 900 for Goligoski

Strong and steady, veteran defenseman a proven leader

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

"Reliable" might be the perfect word to describe Alex Goligoski's NHL career.

The numbers back that up. 

Goligoski will play in his 900th game tonight, when the Coyotes face off against the Colorado Avalanche, 7 p.m., at Gila River Arena.

The 35-year-old defenseman, known as "Goose" to many -- "Goosie" to Jakob Chychrun -- has missed just 13 games over the previous nine seasons; he has missed only 10 since he signed with the Coyotes prior to the 2016-17 season.

He values his ability to be a consistent -- and a key -- fixture in the lineup.

"Just bringing it every night," Goligoski said. "I take a lot of pride in being able to play in all situations. That's kind of the Number One thing I always try to do. I think about how my teammates can rely on me no matter what, how coaches can trust me. It just starts there. Everything stems from there. I just want to be a reliable player and just be a good teammate."

Head coach Rick Tocchet admires Goligoski's esteem for teammates' trust and respect.

"That's a great thing to say," Tocchet said. "I hope his teammates read that and listen to that. At the end of the day when you retire, when a player you see 10 years from now says, 'Hey, I played with Alex Goligoski and he was a real reliable guy. I could count on him every night' -- that, to me, speaks volumes. That's a really good thing for Goose to say because it's true." 

Goligoski generally plays hard, heavy minutes against opponents' top lines and is a specialist when it comes to blocking shots and killing penalties. He does not take stability for granted. 

"I've been lucky," Goligoski said. "Knock on wood. I haven't really had any serious injuries. I'm getting older, but my body still feels really good. You play with a lot of great players on good teams and the numbers start piling up. So, I definitely feel very fortunate to be hitting these numbers like this. It's a group effort."

Goligoski ranks 23rd in blocked shots since the NHL began tracking the statistic prior to the 2005-06 season. He leads the Coyotes with 59 this season.

"You have to have courage," Tocchet said. "Goose has courage. He's not afraid to get hit by the puck, that's Number One. Anticipation -- that's why Goose is a good penalty killer. He reads the play and knows where the puck is going to go, and he can get out there to block the shot a lot quicker. And quite frankly, the quicker you get out there the easier it is to block a shot." 

At 5'11", 185 pounds, Goligoski is far the biggest player on the ice. His stingy defensive play is testament to his competitive nature. 

"He's 180 pounds, but he goes into the corners and tries to get through people," Tocchet said. "He's not going to kill you, but he can stop a cycle. He's one of our constant guys, I feel, on every given night. That's all you can ask for, and Goose has done that for me."

Goligoski has played 337 games with the Coyotes over five seasons. He began his career in 2008 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, playing 177 games in four seasons. He played 385 games with the Dallas Stars over six seasons from 2011-16. 

His veteran leadership earned him the third alternate captain position this season. Coyotes forward Christian Dvorak lauded Goligoski's ability to communicate, whether in the locker room between periods, after games or just in general. 

"He's a great leader," Dvorak said. "He's actually pretty vocal in the locker room in between periods and before games. He works hard on and off the ice. It's always good to learn from him."

Jakob Chychrun has been Goligoski's defense partner most of the year. He credits Goligoski for his own growth.

"Goosie's awesome," Chychrun said. "He's a guy that I've got a great relationship with, a guy I love playing with, and he's been a big to me in my growth here. We've developed a great chemistry on and off the ice."

Chychrun also commended Goligoski's communication skills.

"We talk a lot (on the ice)," Chychrun said. "We always communicate. After shifts we're analyzing together, which is so important to have chemistry. Our whole group really leans on his leadership and his experiences, especially (when things get tough)."

The Coyotes, as they have for five seasons now, will lean on Goligoski's leadership tonight against the Avalanche. 

They'll need it against arguably the top team in the NHL.

"You want to go against the best," Goligoski said. "It worked out that way for (my) Game 900. I drew those guys."

Lead Photo Credit: Norm Hall - NHLI via Getty Images // Second Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey - NHLI via Getty Images // Third Photo Credit: Norm Hall - NHLI via Getty Images // Fourth Photo Credit: Mark Blinch - NHLI via Getty Images // Fifth Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau - NHLI via Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Christian Petersen - Getty Images

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