The Phoenix Coyotes have been given new life a few months ago, being awarded a 5-year deal to remain in Glendale after new owners George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc purchased the team to keep them at Jobing.com arena. Many vacant hockey cities from across the nation, including Quebec and Seattle, were prepared to house them in case the deal had gone through.
Now they have a lot to prove that these next five years will truly be the most critical of the franchise. A number of resignings and being very aggressive in the free agent market leading to obtaining star center Mike Ribeiro is leading them to the right track.
What better way to prove they have a home than to open their preseason with a home-and-home against the Los Angeles Kings.
They won both games 4-2 and 5-1 respectably, and they made a statement by the way they played both physically and very fast-paced. In Phoenix, all four of their goals came on either a man advantage or shorthanded. Long time Phoenix players Shane Doan, Keith Yandle and resigned Mikkel Boedker each put up a goal. They outhit and outshot the Kings. Best of all, they were able to come back from 2-0 down in the first three minutes.
“When preseason begins, all you do is throw your players out there and see what you can do,” head coach Dave Tippett said. “Ultimately we had two short-handed and two powerplay goals. If you can take anything out of the first game that would be it.”
At Staples Center, it was a much different story, but a similar outcome. They pounded from all angles with many of their reserves against a number of Kings’ starters. Brandon Yip had a solid outing scoring twice in the second period. The Coyotes also scored twice in the power play which led to a solid 5-0 lead midway through the third period.
While the Coyotes are off to a decent start, defensemen Rusty Klesla could be out for a while. During the first period, Jordan Nolan took down Klesla on an open ice body check. Video did show that he hit with his shoulder and did not result in a penalty. Paul Bissonnette took matters in his own hands and fought Nolan leaving the bench. It resulted in a 10-game suspension with a return in late October, ironically enough against Los Angeles. This goes to show that even in a preseason game, the Kings-Coyotes “hidden” rivalry is still alive and well.
“LA plays with a competitive edge,” Doan said. “It brings out the best in some of us. It’s hockey, it’s fun.”
Klesla is resting at home after released from the hospital. He suffered a concussion and whiplash, but there is no timetable for his return.
Wins in preseason really don’t mean much unless you are the Phoenix Coyotes. With a fan base that has been struggling to find their niche, it has become time for them to make themselves known. Even though their season doesn’t begin until October 3 when they host the New York Rangers, essentially they have begun to settle their ground. This could be a good start that may become something.