Wednesday, November 23, 2011

11/23/2011: the night Klesla killed Perry

This was a game made of everything I have been wanting to see and a lot of things that I don't even understand.
The things I've been wanting to see:

Other things that happened: Doan, Whitney and Yandle woke up and decided to show off all their mad skills (note: "skill" is a relative term around here) and everything was great for it. 
Poor Chips couldn't keep up with the wizard on an excellent breakaway attempt that would have made highlight reels around the world. It's okay because he was really great in every other aspect of play, just take my word for it.

And then Doan had a lot of dirty stick language going on, which considering his play lately, had my head spinning. Deke? What is "deke"?

On top of all this, Yands was doing things that weren't faking the shot every single time or making ill-advised passes that lead to turnovers. He did things like "defense" and "goal make". And with Hanzal and Vrbata already chugging along nicely, we're now a growing threat in the conference--and we were doing pretty swell before that.

Things that I don't even:

 The entire third period. I missed it. I'm sorry, but here's what happened according to the score sheet: 
Oliver Ekman-Larsson/OEL/The Hyphen/Harry Potter scored, just in case you didn't love him enough already.

Corey Perry also scored (booooo), he was obviously mad about Klesla laying into him earlier.

(The aftermath)
("Go on without me /coughwheeze...")
(too bad they didn't)

12 minutes into the second period, Smith is hit from behind after playing the puck in front of the net. He gets back up to get at the guy who hit him, Maxwell, as well as a few of the other Yotes.

Maxwell gets an interference penalty, I get flashbacks from the Winnipeg home opener, and Smith gets... diving? I thought a roughing call, maybe, but DIVING?

Doesn't the whole "Maxwell gets an interference call for knocking Smith over" kind of negate the whole diving thing? Or that he isn't pretending to be hurt but getting up to get his fair share of retribution? Or that he didn't hit Maxwell to try to draw an interference penalty because Maxwell is being penalized for hitting him?

Not that it matters because they didn't score, it was just weird and stupid. A black mark on Smith's record that is hardly deserved. Next time you call someone for hooking, ref, make sure you get the other guy too, for holding the stick.

"16:43 Ryan Getzlaf: Interference - 2 min
16:43 Ryan Getzlaf: Unsportsmanlike conduct - 2 min
16:43 Teemu Selanne : Unsportsmanlike conduct  - 2  min
16:43 Ryan Getzlaf : Misconduct (10 min)  - 0  min"

Did the Ducks become the Flyers while I wasn't looking? I always liked Anaheim, they're in the best division and we win against them a lot, so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that the refs made a bogus call. I can be this charitable because we won 4-2.
More in the Ducks defense: Hanzal should have also received a penalty (inciting?) for being there for Getzlaf to illegally hit. If he'd been more in line with the league and the spirit of the game, he would have never let his body get in the way in the first place, and would spare Anaheim from the penalty box. Alas...

It's nothing personal, Babs

Everything I like about Jason LaBarbera:

  • His Pat Tillman mask.
  • Late last season, he made 46 stops in a hilarious victory against Vancouver.
  • The other night this happened: (Balloonbera?)

Maybe one day this list will be longer. Sigh.

Monday, November 21, 2011

things that shouldn't go unsaid

My collection of thoughts I've had since the start of the season until the start of this blog, reader's digest version.

Old Jets vs New Jets: I'll start by complaining that they kept the Jets name. Because now I see too often that the new Jets being regarded as a continuation of the old Jets, and not the Thrashers. Gee, way to my team's history while disregarding your own.

But onto the actual game. I think the forced rivalry between the two teams was a little silly, and I don't think that it was as important to the players as it was to myself and many other fans.

After all of the torment we've endured from the vocal minority of Jets fans heckling us that we'd be moving, and after the final insults of the vocal minority of Jets fans booing Coyotes jerseys walking into the area, we conquered this great evil that had been looming over our heads. "Winnipeg" had become synonymous with "relocation".

And we crushed them.

Every cry of "Go, Jets, go!" from the so-called-invasion was immediately drowned out in a roar of "LET'S GO COYOTES". And now it's really over, I don't really care too much how successful or unsuccessful Winnipeg is this year. That game was the end of a painful chapter in this team's history, and now it's done and time to move on.

On ownership: Just getting this out of the way and being done with it. We're here to stay. I believe that. For every team that's been relocated: I'm sorry. I'm sorry for fans of the many teams that have been in a similar situation to ours. Have some respect for Coyotes fans, and remember when it was you.

Our shiny new toy: More on Bryzgalov later, this is for Smith.

I had a healthy amount of skepticism bringing him in, as this is a person who I knew very little about and was supposed to replace the likes of Ilya. But if Tippett requested him, that's good enough for me.


And Smith is amazing. I can't believe this is still being debated. Did he let in a bad goal being out of the net? Yes, and that was disappointing but look at all the other goals we've been able to score because he can get the puck up the ice that much faster for us. He's made some supernatural saves this year, the team loves him, I love him. I think he's better for the team than Bryzgalov was, and I think that's already starting to show.

Haters of Walsh and Bryzgalov: I just don't get this. Smith is exponentially better for this team than Bryzgalov was, and Bryzgalov was great. Bryzzy (Breezy?) helped to carry this team to the playoffs two years running. I won't ever forget this and won't ever stop respecting him for it. He earned the right to go for the big bucks in Philly, and if he doesn't want to play for us, then fine.

All this hatred for Todd Walsh has me just as confused, after the "Bryzgalov incident" before the Philly game. If you haven't heard the interviews, check them out. I was shocked what our players had to say about the Russian bear; shocked that they would say such things, but I believed every word. Should it have been said? Probably not, and we look extra unclassy after losing that game too.

Is it Walshie's fault? I don't see how. That is kind of his job. He didn't ask the players how much of a jerk they thought Bryz was, he asked them what their feelings were about him going into this game. What other radio and TV hosts wouldn't ask their teams the same thing?

I respect Walsh, even if I do think he's a little corny sometimes. He's been nothing but supportive for this team, and these players, and you can tell the emotional investment he has in the Coyotes. If only we had ten of him representing us on the television and radio stations, we'd be a lot better off in this ownership situation.

I liked him before it was cool: Rostislav Klesla.

Listen I have witnesses to vouch for me on this.

Last year I was sad to see Upshall gone, but cautiously optimistic to have this "Klesla guy" in when our defense was broken. Very early in to his career as a Coyote, Klesla takes a puck to the face to block a shot and I fall in love with this warrior of a hockey player. Thank God he is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

I'm only mad at him because he makes it so hard to choose what name goes on my next jersey: Smith, Korpikoski, or Klesla?

The San Jose Sharks: I respect this team when we are playing against them more than any other team in the league. There, I've said it, and I'd say it again if I had to.

I don't know what it is, but every game between these two clubs is so gritty. The intensity is that much stronger, and it's not just because we're division rivals. There is just some real explosive chemistry between us, and I love it.

A perfect example would be our second game against them this season, with our first being a complete joke. Smith gets his first shutout as a Coyote. Everyone is redeemed for the utter failure that started this season. We showed that we can humiliate and beat down their club just as well as they can do to us.

Bring on round 3, San Jose. Win or lose, it's bound to be a great show.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hockey the hard way: Coyotes at Sabres

Last night I found myself taught the meaning of our motto: Hockey The Hard Way.

The first thirty minutes was some of the worst hockey I've seen lately; we played like we wanted to lose. Doan got an early goal after being pretty lackluster lately, but we definitely didn't deserve it, not as a team.

Smith was the only reason we were able to hang around, and we left him for the wolves so many times. Negative comments about him leaving the net last night have been driving me up the wall; he didn't let one in, and where in the world was the defense during all this? Would the Sabres get that great scoring chance on an empty net if some of the other Coyotes decided to do their job? Seems unlikely, unless you haven't been paying attention to all the success we've had with Smith playing the puck so much.

In regards to time and space, Buffalo got miles and hours to go to work. The Kaleta goal still makes me sick to my stomach.

Then all of the sudden, we decide to actually play. And Buffalo gets shut down. And Smith doesn't have to make those insane diving saves anymore. We put in effort after spending half the game looking like we could care less, and we get a great victory out of it.

It's taken me this long to stop being so pissed about that, to stop with the "why didn't you play like that in the first place?" It's easy to think that way, because it makes a lot of sense. But then it would be easy, and it's silly for me to expect things to be easy.

"Hockey the hard way". It's more than just the blue collar plays and garbage goals. It's more than having castoffs and has-beens on our roster and seeing merit in them. It's more than finding success in a league where everyone predicts we'll fail. If that was all we had to worry about, I don't think our motto would be very fitting, not with the coaching staff and leadership behind this team.

It's hard because, sometimes, we make it more difficult on ourselves. Sometimes we get lazy in the last minute of play and let the opposition score. Sometimes we get too focused chasing the puck and the game and forget to stick to the basics. Sometimes, like last night, was don't play like we want the two points, or even one. But we find ways to win anyway.

They're mistakes, and that's just as much a part of the adversity this franchise faces as anything else. Yes, they did poorly, and they knew it. They didn't let it get to them, they didn't stand around feeling sorry for themselves, but moved on, scored, and won the game. If they can put their mistakes behind them and move on, well, then I can put them behind me too.

But seriously, boys, don't do that anymore.