Even though the Coyotes once played in Winnipeg, it was clear that the fans in Winnipeg were siding with the Flames last night (I can’t imagine what my dad would have said had he seen Winnipeg fans hoping for the Flames). Essentially playing a road game, the Coyotes started off strong and faded down the stretch. Even so, this was pre-season hockey, so let’s focus on the production of particular players as opposed to wins and losses.
Al Montoya and Josh Tordjman
Players that stood out:
Kevin Porter: The sniper out of Michigan played a very impressive first period. Centering a line between Doan and Lisin, Porter was all over the ice in the first frame and registered an assist on a rebound goal by Lisin. He lacks size (about 5’11 and 180 pounds) but has good awareness and is a good skater. Gretzky was really giving him a chance to play, as he saw time on the power play and penalty kill as well. However, as strong as his first period was, he struggled in the second and third periods and his size is an issue when it comes to battling for the puck.
Kyle Turris: Turris has a nose for the net and came close to popping an early goal when he nailed the crossbar on a wrist shot after a bad Jim Vandermeer pinch. The lanky rookie is always in the right place at the right time and even saw some time along the point on the power play to end the first period. Aside from the fact that he is slight and could stand to put on more weight (which he will with time), the Wisconsin product didn’t disappoint.
Enver Lisin: Lisin was very impressive from the outset of the game and was probably the Coyotes’ most dangerous offensive player throughout the contest. The 22 year old Russian meshed very well with Doan and Porter and popped two first period goals. His first goal was off a bad rebound by Calgary goalie Matt Keetley and his second was a nice spin-o-rama shot from a bad angle just under the offensive zone circle. Additionally, he also had some nice passes that led to scoring chances and almost popped a hat trick late in the game.
Mikkel Boedker: The only way you’d know this kid was 18 is if you looked at his birth certificate. Sure he’s small, but he can skate like the wind, and has soft hands. Gretzky also employed Boedker on the power play point and the youngster did not look out of place. What stood out most may have been his calm play considering how much older most of the other players were last night.
Daniel Carcillo: He plays the game with reckless abandon. Pre-season game or not, he brought an intensity that has to be infectious to his teammates. He hits and gets hit (as evidenced by Dion Phaneuf absolutely nailing him at the blue line in the 1st period) and isn’t afraid to go into dirty areas; in fact, it seems like he rather enjoys it.
Keith Yandle: Doesn’t lack offensive ability, evidenced by his three points through two pre-season games but needs to work on his defensive game. He gets caught up ice too often and has some difficulty in one-on-one situations. With the departures of Ballard and Boynton, the chance is there for him to make an impression and crack the Coyotes’ squad. However, if the Coyotes continue to employ a forward on the point on the power play, Yandle seems more likely to start off the season in the AHL.
Kurt Sauer: Sauer was paired with Yandle throughout most of the game and provides a steadying force on the back-end. He is not offensive and doesn’t pretend to be. The big defenseman relies on physical play and positioning to negate the opposing team’s attack and that was no different last night. He did make a bad turnover that directly led to Calgary’s second goal by Matt Pelech but will be counted on this season to help make up for the Coyotes’ lack of depth on the back-end.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.