GLENDALE – After taking the day off on Sunday, the Coyotes
re-assembled at the Ice Den in Scottsdale on Monday
morning for a lengthy practice. After the workout, the
team headed to Sky Harbor Airport for their charter flight
to Chicago where they will play Games 3 and 4 of the
Western Conference Quarterfinal series with the Blackhawks
on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
The teams split the first two games – both overtime
affairs – played at Jobing.com Arena.
Captain Shane Doan says the Coyotes are excited for the
challenge of playing the next two games inside the United
Center in front of 22,000-plus fans that will undoubtedly
be rooting against them.
“It’s pretty good,” Doan said when I asked him to describe
the team’s psyche after the dramatic loss in Game 2.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed with giving up the goal
late, but we talked about it at the beginning of the
series – there’s up’s and down’s, and you can’t get too
high, you can’t get too low.”
Doan notched 15 hits in the first two games. Many of those
were delivered to Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.
“It’s fun to be physical and fun to be able to go out
there and battle and play hard,” Doan said. “I’m sure it’s
going to get more and more. As you go through a series you
start to get little personal battles going on where you
want to make sure you win those.”
In other words, look for a few more Doan/Hjalmarsson
Regarding playing the next two in the “Madhouse on
Madison,” Doan said: “It’ll be awesome. As a player you
get up just as much, no matter if you’re a home team or a
visiting team. You have a crowd that’s excited and
energetic, just like our building, and it’s going to be
similar and we expect it to be a lot of fun.”
Defenseman Keith Yandle also is OK with the series
shifting to Chicago. He says the Coyotes are a strong road
team because of their solid team chemistry.
“It’s a great group of guys,” Yandle said. “Especially
playoff time, you spend a lot more time with each other,
everyone is eating dinner together, you’re hanging out
everyday. It’s a lot of fun (and) it’s something you look
forward to. I know we’re all looking forward to getting on
• Center Antoine Vermette has been Phoenix’s most
productive offensive player in the series thus far.
Vermette, whom the Coyotes acquired in a deal with
Columbus just before the trade deadline, has scored three
goals on five shots.
Vermette, 29, is a seasoned postseason veteran; Game 3 on
Tuesday will be his 45th game in the Stanley Cup Payoffs.
He played nearly half of those games with Ottawa in 2007
when the Senators reached the Stanley Cup Final. In that
season, Vermette notched two goals and three assists in 20
games, so just two games into this series he’s well on his
way to shattering his career-high for playoff points in a
“At this time it’s about the team,” Vermette said Monday.
“It doesn’t matter what you do personally, we’re 1-1 (in
the series). You like to chip in in different ways, when
you can score that’s nice, we can use that. But there’s
some guys that are doing different things to help the team
that doesn’t appear on the score sheet.”
• Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney has said repeatedly
the Coyotes signed forward Raffi Torres last summer
because he knows how to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
So far, so good. Torres has chipped in a goal and an
assist in the first two games while providing a physical
presence with eight hits.
• Here are some eye-catching stats after two games:
– Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson ranks fourth in the
Stanley Cup Playoffs in ice time per game at 29:36.
Granted Games 1 and 2 were overtime games, but it’s still
a pretty impressive ranking for a 20-year-old making his
debut in the playoffs.
– Center Daymond Langkow ranks fifth in the playoffs in
faceoff winning percentage at 64.0 percent.
– The Coyotes have blocked 44 shots.
• And finally, I’m guessing we’re all going to see actor
Vince Vaughn on TV in a seat near the glass during Game 3
and/or Game 4 at the United Center. Vaughn, of course, is
a huge hockey/Blackhawks fans.
I will never forget walking into the Coyotes dressing room
after they beat the Dallas Stars on Nov. 27, 2009 and
being shocked to see Vaughn mingling with the coaches and
players. Vaughn was in the Valley that night and
incorporated the game into his plans. Doan, head coach
Dave Tippett and many of the players took time to chat
with him and pose for pictures.
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