The Western Conference Finals are under way and Anaheim and Detroit are battling it out for a chance to play for the Stanley Cup.
I have just left Detroit after working for NHL Radiò and the series is tied 1-1, with Anaheim winning Game Two.This has been typical Anaheim hockey as Head Coach Randy Carlyle emphasizes the little details that go a long way. He always has his defensemen close the gap and hold the line, with an emphasis on interfering with the oncoming forechecker. Detroit is getting frustrated with this and can't understand why there aren't more calls going against Anaheim.
The Ducks always prepare as if the series will go the full seven games and early on they have done a great job of getting in on the forecheck and finishing their checks. The reason is simple: the longer the series goes, the more likely Detroit’s 'D' will get nicked up, one small injury at a time. They have gone after the ageless and ultra competitive Chris Chelios, while trying to get a piece of the all-world Nick Lidstrom. Anaheim received their best game of in the playoffs yet from Scott Neidermayer, as he scored the game-winning goal in overtime in Sunday’s Game Two.
I am working alongside Florida Panthers Play-by-Play voice, Dave Strader. He had some interesting views on the way the West has been officiated and how the standard has been tolerated. Many of us believe that there is way more interference and holding up in the West when compared to the East. It will be interesting to see how the adjustments will be made, if at all, when the Stanley Cup finals begin. The East could end up getting a plethora of powerplays!
On to other thoughts:
I spoke to Shane Doan
from Moscow, Russia, following Team Canada's impressive Gold Medal victory at the World Championships. Doan was the Captain as Canada becomes the 1st team in 70 yrs to go undefeated and win Gold.
The Coyotes were well represented as Athletic Trainer Chris Broadhurst, Trainer Stan Wilson and his charismatic son, Denver, were all a huge part of the staff. Denver put on quite a show in the locker room following every victory with his talented dance steps! The boys in the room loved it and he kept it pretty loose.
I spoke with the General Manager of Team Canada, Steve Yzerman following the Gold Medal game. He has seen and played with many of the best. He has won three Stanley Cups, a Gold Medal at the 2002 Olympics and will go directly to the Hall of Fame. He CAN'T say enough about Shane Doan
. He spoke of his leadership, his on-ice dominance and the great role model he was for every player. We are very lucky to have Doan on the Coyotes. There are 29 teams that would have taken a run at him if he were an unrestricted free agent. He is going to have a great season and you can be sure that Wayne Gretzky will utilize him more than ever. He can skate forever and is as strong on the puck as any player out there.
By the way, Yzerman did a fantastic job in his first GM role. He was turned down by at least 20 NHL players to play in Moscow, yet he stuck to his belief in team building and chemistry. While other Countries kept bringing players from teams in the NHL that were eliminated from the play offs, he stood by his group and made no changes, except for the starting goalie in the final game.
Andy Murray was outstanding as the head coach, while assistants Mike Johnson and Gerard Gallant solidified the staff.
For Phoenixcoyotes.com, I'm Darren Pang.