Series victory over Red Wings would do wonders for Coyotes' fanbase
By: Hockey News
Apr 18, 2010
By Alex Mansfield
GLENDALE, ARIZ. - When Henrik Zetterberg’s hat-trick goal slid into a vacant cage to seal Game 2 for Detroit, droves of fans at Jobing.com Arena made a bee-line for the doors in that all-to-familiar “close, but no cigar” mass exodus.
This time around, though, the Coyote faithful weren’t turning their backs in disgust. After all, if there’s one thing this season’s ‘Yotes have shown, it's that they refuse to go away. Just ask the San Jose Sharks, who narrowly pulled away with the Pacific Division crown after historically using the Coyotes as Western Conference cannon fodder – these aren’t last decade’s ‘Yotes.
So never mind that the West’s best defense got torched for seven goals Friday night or that the Coyotes relinquished their first home-ice advantage in more than a decade – it’s just fuel for an organization that’s making a living off deficits and doubts.
For what seems like the first time since the franchise’s move from Winnipeg, fans in the desert are approaching adversity with a refreshing brand of optimism and confidence. Players are taking the losses that once triggered brutal winless streaks and parlaying them into learning experiences. It’s quite possible the peaks and valleys of the past year could be the best thing to happen to hockey’s unlikeliest market.
“It makes a hell of a difference seeing them play good hockey,” said Ken Testani, a Coyotes regular for the better part of a decade. “We’ve had such a lull in team spirit for the past several years, but things are definitely more exciting than they’ve been in a long time.”
The big question for the Coyotes now is whether they can capitalize on the new breed of fanfare their record season has drawn in. The attendance is there for now, buoyed by a pair of playoff sellouts and a strong end to the regular season, but can anything short of Lord Stanley’s Cup manage to pique and keep Phoenix’s collective interest?
“We’ll find out next year,” said one anonymous 'Yotes fan. “People didn’t really believe until they got to the playoffs. Now that they’re here, hopefully they’ll go far. That’d definitely help.”
For many long-time supporters, the passion this season boils down to being grateful for having a team to call their own. To the hardcore puckheads, this season’s results took a back seat to the overarching principle that hockey would spend at least another year in the desert – the unexpected success merely sweetens the deal.
“(Last summer) was a little uneasy, but I’m really happy to see them playing well now,” Testani said. “I’d hate to see hockey leave the valley. I think we have a lot of great hockey fans in Phoenix.”
The atmosphere inside Jobing.com Arena for Game 2 revealed a core of hockey-savvy supporters who not only acknowledged the subtle nuances of hockey – one of the loudest ovations of the high-octane second period came for a diving backcheck on Valtteri Filppula’s partial breakaway – but the magnitude and potential implications of a series victory over the vaunted Red Wings. After all, who better to play spoiler to the Dogs’ coming-out party than the Western Conference’s perennial post-season villains?
“Winning a playoff series would do a lot for this team,” one fan said. “And beating the Wings would be a helluva story.”
World Cup showing helps Seidenberg land one-year deal with Islanders
By: Jared Clinton
Sep 28, 2016
Team Europe may be trailing the best-of-three World Cup final, but Dennis Seidenberg will be in good spirits after the Game 1 loss as he has signed a one-year, $1-million deal with the New York Islanders
Dennis Seidenberg had two goals for the World Cup of Hockey. The first was to help Team Europe to a title, and the other was to play well enough to land himself a contract.
“I just have to focus on playing my game,” Seidenberg told the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa of chasing a deal in the tournament. “There’s no magic to it. It’s playing a simple style of hockey. That’s basically it. I don’t have to try and do something I can’t do. That’s going to go the other way if you do that.”
And while falling behind 1-0 in the best-of-three final series to Team Canada isn’t going to help Seidenberg accomplish his first goal, he has done his part — playing his game, and doing so to the best of his ability — to take care of his contract status. The New York Islanders announced Wednesday that they have come to terms on a one-year, $1-million contract with Seidenberg.
The contract comes three months after Seidenberg was bought out by the Boston Bruins and amidst speculation that several teams were interested in bringing him aboard. It’s a good signing, too, especially for an Islanders team that was in need of some fresh faces to help on the back end after watching Brian Strait head to the Winnipeg Jets as a free agent. The best part about Seidenberg’s signing, though, is that it’s low risk and high reward for both parties.
For Seidenberg, the new role will likely be a bottom-pairing position with a team that already has enough top-end blueliners to fill out the roster. Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic, Calvin De Haan and Thomas Hickey are all more than capable, and the same goes for young blueliners Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech. However, it can never hurt to have some added insurance, and the 35-year-old Seidenberg has the experience and ability to still chip in on the back end.
Though he’s coming off of a tough season, one in which he had a sub-20 minute average ice time for the first time since 2007-08, Seidenberg can still be a decent blueliner in his own end. The issue is mobility, but if he’s paired with someone who allows him to be a stay at home defender, Seidenberg could benefit. And as for his ice time, it’s not likely he’ll be asked to take on a much larger role than he did this past season.
The biggest concern about Seidenberg may be his health, though. He played in 61 games this past season and dealt with back and knee ailments, and he has been forced to miss significant amounts of time in two of the past three seasons. That said, on a one-year deal, there’s no risk for the Islanders. If Seidenberg goes down, they can bring up a fresh face to fill his place.
So, win or lose at the World Cup, Seidenberg’s tournament was a success.
World Cup notebook: Crosby puts an impressive streak on the line
By: Ken Campbell
Sep 23, 2016
Sidney Crosby has won 22 straight and his only concern is making it 23...Swedes must be smarter...Carey Price on beer league hockey.
Team Canada captain Sidney Crosby is on something of a roll lately. Not only did he win his second Stanley Cup in the spring, he enters the World Cup of Hockey semifinal riding a 22-game winning streak in a Canadian uniform dating back to the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.
Since losing 5-3 to USA in the last game of the preliminary round, Canada won the next four games en route to the gold medal. Crosby’s teams then went 6-0-0 in Sochi and 9-0-0 in games in which he played in the 2015 World Championship before going 3-0-0 in the World Cup. Crosby has nine goals and 20 points in those games, including the golden goal in overtime in Vancouver and a goal in the 3-0 win in the gold medal game in Sochi.
“I didn’t even know about that until today,” Crosby said. “Those don’t really matter going into tomorrow, right? It’s all about tomorrow right now.”
SWEDES CAN’T PLAY ‘STUPID’
Swedish defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said his team can’t afford a repeat of its play in the final pre-tournament game when it lost 6-2 to Team Europe, the same team it plays in the semifinal Sunday afternoon. “We played a really stupid game,” Ekman-Larsson said. “We turned over too many pucks at their blueline, at our blueline, all over the ice. When you do that against a team with that much skill, you’re in big trouble.”
Team Europe coach Ralph Kruger said that late in that game, Frans Nielsen pointed to the Danish shoulder patch flag and reckoned he had lost to the Swedes about 200 times during his career. He then said how happy he was to finally beat them. The Swedes know they’ll be playing an opponent motivated by a desire to knock off one of the world’s hockey powers.
“I said right from the beginning I thought it would be great for the guys on Team Europe to have a chance to beat some of these teams,” said Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson. “Good for them. I wish then all the best, except for on Sunday.”
During his media scrum yesterday, Canadian goalie Carey Price seemed a little perplexed by a question from Marc-Andre Perreault of TVA Sports in Quebec. Perreault asked Price why Canada always comes into these big games saying it’s just another game when clearly there is so much on the line.
“Because that’s what it is,” Price said. What followed was this rather interesting exchange:
Perreault: “But in my beer league, when we play Maggie’s Corner Store, we get all excited.”
Price: “I don’t know. Maggie’s Corner Store must be pretty good, huh?”
CANADA, TEAM EUROPE WILL KEEP IT PREDICTABLE
Exciting hockey doesn’t always win, but boring hockey almost never loses. And that’s why Team Canada and Team Europe will continue to play predictable hockey for the rest of the tournament.
“I don’t like to feed my family on hope. I like to feed my family on know,” said Team Canada coach Mike Babcock. “I don’t like surprises, not on Christmas, not on my birthday. So I don’t want it anymore. I want it under control.”
Team Europe, meanwhile, won’t be in the mood to trade chances, either. “We’re playing a boring style of hockey, but it’s proving to be a successful one,” said Team Europe captain Anze Kopitar. “We’re proud of it and we’re going to keep doing it.”
BUT TEAM EUROPE WILL BE FAST
If there was one thing we learned about Team Sweden from its game against North America it was that the Swedes had all sorts of trouble handling the speed of the under-24 team. Team Europe is considerably older, but coach Ralph Kruger is keenly aware that it will have move quickly in order to win.
“There’s no question that we really need to be a strong transition team,” Kruger said. “We’ve created a lot of offense out of that. And (Sweden) is probably the best in the world at just defending and staying within their structure right through an entire game. We need to be patient with that. I’m expecting a one-goal game and we need to find our advantage like we did against the Czechs. It will be a similar game at a higher level and we’re going to have to pick it up."
Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky celebrate the Game 2 overtime winner at the 1987 Canada Cup.
Author: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Down Goes Brown: What was the best Game 2 in World Cup history?
By: Sean McIndoe
Sep 28, 2016
Five out of seven World/Canada Cups have been best-of-three finals, so let's take a look back at those five games, and rank them from worst to best.
Tuesday night's Game 1 of the World Cup final, which saw Team Canada earn a 3-1 win over Team Europe, sets up a do-or-die Game 2 Thursday night. A Canada win would end the tournament, and the trophy will be in the building, unless the league has come to its senses and thrown that ugly thing into a raging bonfire instead.
There have been seven World and Canada Cups in international hockey history, but we didn't get to see a Game 2 in all of those. Twice, in 1981 and 2004, the format called for a one-game final. But it's been best-of-three in the other tournaments, which gives us five Game 2 to work with. So today, let's take a look back at those five games, and rank them from worst to best.
As always, this is opinion only, and if you disagree, then you're wrong.
No. 5 – 1984: Canada 6, Sweden 5
The road there: Canada stumbled through the 1984 tournament, going 2-2-1 through the round robin and barely making the playoff round as the fourth seed. But Team Canada earned a trip to the final thanks to an overtime win over the Soviets in the semi-final, and they were facing an upstart Swedish team that had beaten them in their round robin meeting and had just embarrassed the Americans with a 9-2 blowout. The Canadians took the opener by a 5-2 final, but the second game proved closer.
Game 2: The game looked like a laugher early on, with Canada scoring four times in the first seven minutes and adding a fifth before the first period was over. A Paul Coffey goal early in the second made it 6-1, setting the stage for a furious Team Sweden comeback. They scored three unanswered goals to close out the second period, and draw to within 6-5 early in the third. But that was as close as they came, as Canada held on for the win and the series sweep.
The aftermath: This turned out to be the first of three straight Canada Cup wins for Team Canada, and remains the only finals appearance by Team Sweden.
The bottom line: What looked like a laugher wound up being a reasonably entertaining contest. But the game everyone remembers from the 1984 Canada Cup will always be that semi-final thriller with the Soviets.
No. 4 – 1991: Canada 4, USA 2
The road there: Coming on the heels of the 1987 tournament, fans were probably hoping for yet another final between Canada and the Soviets. But with the team in turmoil, partly due to the political situation back home, the Soviets failed to even make the playoff round. That left Canada looking for a new challenger, and the Americans were happy to step in for their first ever Canada Cup final appearance. The two teams met in the round robin, with Canada winning 6-3 to hand the Americans their only loss of the stage, and Canada followed that up with a 4-1 win in the opening game of the final.
Game 2: This game may best be remembered for who wasn't playing. Team Canada captain Wayne Gretzky was knocked out of action in Game 1 on an ugly hit from behind by Gary Suter. The check left Gretzky unable to suit up for Game 2, and contributed to the back problems that slowed him down for much of the early 1990s.
Looking for the sweep, Canada jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Americans clawed back with a pair of second-period goals. But Steve Larmer earned some revenge on Suter by stripping him of the puck during an American powerplay and then scoring on a breakaway for the winning goal.
The bottom line: This game, much like the 1991 tournament itself, was an entertaining one that for some reason isn't all that well remembered by many fans.
No. 3 – 1996: USA 5, Canada 2
The road there: The Americans swept through the round robin with a perfect 3-0-0 record, including an impressive 5-3 win over Canada that featured a wild early brawl. That win earned them a quarter-final bye, and after knocking off the Russians 5-3 in the semis, Team USA came into the final looking like they had a real shot to wrestle the international crown away from Canada. But Steve Yzerman's overtime winner in Game 1 in Philadelphia handed the Americans their first loss of the tournament, and left them needing a pair of wins in Montreal to take the tournament.
Game 2: Team USA jumped out to an early lead, but Canada came back to tie the game before the first intermission. Goals by John Leclair and Brett Hull gave the Americans a 3-1 lead, and Mike Richter stood on his head to keep it that way until a late powerplay goal by Joe Sakic made it 3-2 with five minutes to play. That was as close as they came, and a pair of Team USA empty net goals padded the final score to 5-2.
The aftermath: Team USA completed the comeback in Game 3, winning by another 5-2 score to capture their first (and so far only) best-on-best championship.
The bottom line: Despite the two empty netters making the score more lopsided than the game was, this was a fun matchup that featured lots of star power, some bad blood, and a raucous Montreal crowd. You can watch the highlights here.
No. 2 – 1976: Canada 5, Czechoslovakia 4 (OT)
The road there: Four years after the legendary Summit Series, the Canada Cup was born in an effort to create the first true international best-on-best tournament. There was no semi-final back then, with the top two teams heading directly to the finals. Canada grabbed one of those spots, finishing first in the round robin with a 4-1-0 record. But while many had expected a Summit Series rematch in the final, the Soviets were edged out of a spot by Czechoslovakia.
The opening game of the final was a blowout, with Canada earning a relatively easy 6-0 win. Game 2 ended up proving to be a bigger challenge.
Game 2: Canada grabbed a 2-0 lead just two minutes in, but Czechoslovakia fought back to tie the game early in the third. A Bobby Clarke goal restored the Canadian lead, but two quick Czechoslovakian goals gave them a 4-3 lead with four minutes to play. Bill Barber tied it with two minutes left, and that set the stage for Darryl Sittler to deliver the first ever Canada Cup with what still stands as one of the most famous goals in the tournament's history.
The aftermath: To this day, Sittler and Team Canada assistant coach Don Cherry are still arguing over who's idea that move was.
The bottom line: You could make a great case for this game being No. 1 on the list. I think it’s a coin flip, but I'll take the game that directly led to one of the greatest moments in hockey history.
1987: Canada 6, Soviet Union 5 (2OT)
The road there: Canada and the Soviets finished in the top two spots in the round robin, then knocked off Czechoslovakia and Sweden, respectively, in the semi-finals to set up the first best-on-best multi-game series between the two rivals since the 1972 Summit Series.
Game 2: With the Soviets looking to clinch their second Canada Cup in three tournaments, the series shifted to Hamilton for the second game. The two teams resumed the all-out offensive pace, with Canada leading 2-1 before the game was even four minutes old. Then it got better.
Canada took a 3-1 lead to the first intermission, but the Soviets tied it in the second before Mario Lemieux quickly restored the lead. The Soviets tied it again early in the third, but Lemieux scored again midway through. That set the stage for a frantic end to regulation that saw Valeri Kamensky score with a minute left to send the game to overtime.
With the trophy on the line, the two teams went back and forth through one scoreless extra period. But midway through the second overtime, Canada finally ended it. Guess who.
The aftermath: This game was so good that the hockey gods decided to re-use the same script for Game 3: A back-and-forth thriller that ends with a 6-5 Canada victory on a Mario Lemieux winner.
The bottom line: The series finale was quite possibly the greatest international game ever played. And it was made possible by this one, which was almost as good. That's enough to earn it the top spot on our list, narrowly ahead of Sittler's fakeout.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.
Expect the Red Wings playoff streak to end this season, especially if they don't start giving more ice time to their best players.
THN is rolling out its 2016-17 Team Previews daily, in reverse order of 2015-16 overall finish, until the start of the season.
THN's Prediction: 5th in Atlantic
Stanley Cup odds: 32-1
Key additions: Frans Nielsen, C; Thomas Vanek, LW; Steve Ott, C
Key departures: Pavel Datsyuk, C; Brad Richards, C; Kyle Quincey, D; Joakim Andersson, C
-Does the playoff streak end this year? Yes, 25 years will be the capper. The Red Wings have simply lost too much top-end talent the past few years, and Pavel Datsyuk’s Russian retirement surely seals their fate. Without Datsyuk, Detroit returns just one player who tallied more than 45 points last year: captain Henrik Zetterberg (a team-leading 50 points). Thomas Vanek sure isn’t going to move mountains, and Frans Nielsen’s impact will be more in the two-way department. Plus, Tomas Jurco may start the season on the shelf while recovering from a back injury – and he was a guy they needed to make a leap this year.
-Who will be the most effective defenseman? With Niklas Kronwall’s career on the wrong side of a tipping point, it might be Danny DeKeyser. The Red Wings had incredibly stratified usage when it came to their blueline last year, and DeKeyser played the toughest minutes of all. Second place went to Kyle Quincey, but he’s gone. At least one more salvageable season from Kronwall would go a very long way, but he already has a knee problem that kept him from the World Cup.
-What can we expect from Dylan Larkin? Continued ascent, for sure. Larkin labored in the second half of his rookie campaign, and coming off one year in college (where the game schedule is light) may have been a factor. But now the splendid young center knows what to expect, and the speed he used as jet fuel during all-star weekend festivities will be used even more effectively thanks to a full summer of training. Once Larkin really takes hold, he’s the offensive heir apparent to the outgoing Zetterberg/Datsyuk alliance.
Player projections are based off a three-year version of Game Score (which you can read about here) weighted by recency and repeatability and then translated to its approximate win value (Game Score Value Added or GSVA). Team strength was derived from the combined value of every player’s GSVA on a team. The season was then simulated 10,000 times factoring in team strength, opponent strength and rest.
This team was once the model franchise, but they’ve been in a serious tailspin over the past few seasons, and with the departure of Pavel Datsyuk, continuing their playoff streak will be a tall order.
The biggest issue in Detroit is minute distribution. Too much ice-time is given to guys who don’t really help the team and not enough is given to their best players.
Last season, Luke Glendening averaged 14:34 minutes per game while Tomas Tatar averaged 14:21. Some might argue that Tatar wasn’t producing enough to earn more minutes (what’s Glendening’s excuse?), but his 5-on-5 points per 60 stayed constant from the 2014-15 to 2015-16 season and his primary points per 60 actually increased. He’s also one of the team’s best play drivers. Glendening doesn’t produce or drive play, but somehow earned more ice-time. That simply shouldn’t be happening.
That’s not all. Gustav Nyquist, one of the team’s best offensive threats, was getting middle-six ice-time while Justin Abdelkader, a third-liner on any other team, got first line minutes. On defense, Brendan Smith was the team’s 6th or 7th D-man on most nights, despite being the team’s best play-driving D-man. That possession ability translated into the team’s highest 5-on-5 goals percentage, but who cares about goals, right?
Here’s a simple experiment showcasing just how inefficient Detroit’s lineup structuring is. Let’s pretend every team gave their best players (according to this model) the most ice-time and their worst the least. Their best player would get an average No. 1 forward ice-time, their second best an average No. 2 and so on. This would create an “optimal” lineup according to Game Score, with the difference between their actual lineup showing how efficient it is.
Here are the results of that (which don’t factor if a 13th forward or 7th D-man are better than someone else in the lineup). Detroit is last. By a lot.
This model is by no means perfect, but if you’ve been tracking each of these previews you’d see it generally does a decent job of valuing the best players on each team. That’s not to say this is how every lineup should be constructed, there’s other things to consider like chemistry, fatigue and effort level. But when a team is as inefficient as the Red Wings, it’s definitely a problem worth looking into.
Detroit likely doesn’t make the playoffs this year, and if their ice-time deployment is anything like last year’s they’ll only have themselves to blame.