We are only seven games into the Coyotes’ season and the team has shocked most of the hockey world by getting off to a 5-2-0 start. Is it too early for the fans here to get excited? The answer is an emphatic NO!
To be sure, there is lots of hockey to be played and a playoff berth in the Western Conference is a daunting challenge. But the greater challenge for the future of this franchise is getting the consistent support of the fans. If you’re reading this blog and you are a fan or if you care at all that the Coyotes stay in Glendale and you can get to Jobing.com Arena, then by all means come out and support this team. Not only does the team need your support, but also you are going to be entertained by a group of players that are playing the ultimate team game the right way.
|Ilya Bryzgalov |
When you break down what the Coyotes have done so far, it’s even more impressive than simply winning five of their first seven games. The 2008-09 Coyotes did some positive things including a fifth-place standing in the Western Conference at the All Star break, but at the end of the season they ranked 27th in goals for and tied for 24th in goals against. Getting a team to score more goals is a tougher task for a coaching staff than getting the team to give up fewer goals. So, Dave Tippett’s staff has put in a system that puts players in the best position on the ice in all three zones and takes advantage of speed and quickness. The results? How about a league best 1.40 goals-against average and .947 save percentage from Ilya Bryzgalov and Jason LaBarbera
. Speaking of Bryzgalov, he was selected as the NHL’s first star for action last week. But, as Ilya pointed out during an interview on NHL Live, the way the team is playing in front of him has allowed him to put up such impressive numbers. Bryz has been solid, but he hasn’t had to make many great second-chance saves so far this season. Still, you have to marvel at shutouts against the defending champion Penguins and the President’s Trophy winner San Jose Sharks… both on the road!!
When a team is playing their system like the Coyotes have so far this season, not only does it cut down on scoring chances against but it also forces turnovers that can lead to more scoring chances in the offensive zone. While scoring enough goals is going to be an ongoing challenge for this group, they just need to keep up “the pack mentality." After seven games, 10 different players have goals and 15 different players have points. The win over Boston featured a goal from three different defensemen. That happened only once last season, in the memorable win over Detroit at Jobing.com Arena prior to the All Star break.
|Tyson Nash |
On another note, how about the progress of my new partner on Fox Sports Arizona, Tyson Nash? He’s totally new to television and he’s replacing one of the best in the business in Darren Pang, but “Nasher” has embraced the challenge and he truly wants to get better with each telecast. If you see him at the rink, give him a shout out.
Thanks for reading and please, come out to Jobing.com Arena and take in a Coyotes game. You’ll be glad you did!