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What I learned: Coyotes vs. Ducks

The Phoenix Coyotes came off a five-game road trip to open a short spat of home games against the Anaheim Ducks, who looked anything but mighty. The Coyotes walked all over the Ducks and, aside from a few scares, had the game in hand the entire time. Final score: Coyotes 4, Ducks 2.

Here are three things I took away from the Coyotes’ victory.

1. Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata are really good together.
I mean, everyone knows that the two Czech boys skate well together, but they showed why head coach Dave Tippett keeps them on the same line. On the power play, Hanzal made a great second effort to dump the puck under Ducks Jonas Hiller and put it right in Vrbata’s path to make the game 2-1 in favor of the Coyotes. Vrbata later scored another one to secure two points on the night.

“You always try to play your game and sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn’t,” said Vrbata. “When it does you try to keep it going as long as you can. Hopefully it will continue for a couple more games.”

2. Goalies can be called for diving.
Believe it or not, an NHL goalie can be called for diving. It’s weird. I thought I was watching hockey, not soccer, but what can I say? It happened. Smith was out of the net and was shoved from behind and he embellished a little bit. With all the talk about the safety of goalies in the NHL, I thought he would get away with it, especially when Ben Maxwell was called for interference on the play.

“I understand the refs have a hard job,” said head coach Dave Tippett. “The problem I had with it was the call on Hanzal, for goaltender interference. Watch that one closely and tell me that’s not a dive by their goalie. That’s the problem I have with it right there.”

3. Keith Yandle isn’t the same player he was last year.

I mean this in the best way possible. Last year, Yandle was one of the best offensive-minded defensemen in the league, but that sometimes cost the Coyotes in the form of goals or extra work on the goalie. This season, Yandle is still getting forward and looks potent, but he has done a better job of sticking to defense. I’ve been impressed with him more and more recently. He still posted a goal and an assist Wednesday.

“Best game of the year right there; best game of the year,” said Tippett. “He competed hard on every loose puck, made good, real solid plays. Nothing fantastic just real solid plays and got rewarded with a goal and an assist, by far his best effort of the year.”