GLENDALE – The Coyotes practiced for about an hour on Friday but not until after they watched the Olympic semifinal game between the United States and Canada together as a group in the player lounge inside Jobing.com Arena.
Canada won 1-0 to advance to the Gold Medal Game against Sweden, which beat Finland, 2-1, in the other semifinal on Friday.
“It was fun because there was some pretty tense moments there in a close game, which we all expected it to be,” said forward Kyle Chipchura, one of the team’s proud Canadians. “There was jabbing back and forth (with the American Coyotes), but for the most part it was lot of fun to have a few guys cheering for the U.S. and a few guys cheering for Canada in the same room.”
Captain Shane Doan, who played for Canada’s Olympic team in 2006, said he, too, enjoyed watching the game with teammates.
“Everyone was having fun ribbing everybody,” Doan said. “It’s always fun to watch with friends. Everybody enjoys it more.”
Defenseman Chris Summers, an American, also liked the viewing party.
“There’s not too many of us (Americans) so we have to stick together,” Summers said. “… Even the Europeans (on the team) were cheering for Canada so we were kind of outnumbered. But it was a good matchup for sure.”
Head Coach Dave Tippett watched the game (away from the players) and was impressed by how Canada shut down the high-scoring U.S. team.
“I thought it was a very good hockey game and I thought the team that deserved to win won,” said Tippett, who played for Canada at the 1984 Olympics and again at the 1992 Olympics. “I thought Canada carried a big portion of the play and I thought Canada’s defense was really strong and (Carey) Price made saves when he needed to.”
Defenseman Keith Yandle, whom many observers believe should have been picked to play for the U.S. team, said he only watched a little bit of Friday’s game – at the beginning at home and then the end with teammates.
“It’s (been) a tough couple days for the Americans… but I think the U.S. is doing pretty good in the medal count,” Yandle said, in reference to the U.S. losing to Canada in men’s and women’s hockey in Sochi.
Regarding Friday's men's game, Yandle said: “It’s a tight-fought game - 1-0. It’s one of those things (where) any bounce can go any way. Obviously, it’s tough to see when U.S. loses.”
Tippett said he was “very surprised” Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson dressed but did not play for Sweden in its semifinal win over Finland on Friday.
“It’s a little interesting the way that’s going, but you never know how their team structure is set up,” Tippett said.
Doan, who will be watching the Gold Medal Game between Canada and Sweden on Sunday, also was shocked Ekman-Larsson didn't play vs. Finland.
“Canada’s blue line is incredible,” Doan said, “And if they don’t play Oliver more, then Sweden’s blue line isn’t quite as good.”
The Coyotes who are not at the Olympics practiced for a third consecutive day on Friday.
The on-ice workout featured more training camp-like skating drills.
“The guys are working through it and that’s all you can ask for,” Tippett said.
Chipchura thinks the three days of hard skating have paid off quickly.
“I think our tempo is getting a lot better and it feels like we’re starting to play a lot crisper,” Chipchura said. “I think each day we’ve gotten sharper, so now we’ve started to work on some important things that are going to be huge for us down the stretch.”
• Defenseman Derek Morris did not take part in Friday’s on-ice workout. He is still considered day-to-day because of an upper-body injury.
• Summers, whom the Coyotes on Thursday recalled from their American Hockey League affiliate in Portland, Maine, is sporting a full playoff-like beard.
“It’s just something that came about,” Summers said. “Being in Portland, if you have one you kind of fit in a little bit better because everybody has one back there just to stay warm. It’s been a crazy winter – nothing like it is here. It might need a little bit of a trim now.”