Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rangers and Coyotes Both Hang On for Wins

Last night was a good hockey night. First, the New York Rangers traveled to Philadelphia where the Flyers had their home opener for the 2008-2009 season. Coming off their win over the Chicago Blackhawks the Rangers were looking for a fast start which they absolutely got. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period, getting 3 of their goals within the first ten minutes. 
Nikolai Zherdev got things going as he banged in the rebound of an Aaron Voros shot to beat Martin Biron who did not have a good start to his season. Just over one minute later Blair Betts stood in front of the net and Zherdev fed him a pass. Betts redirected it through the 5 hole of Biron to put the Rangers up 2-0 in just 5 minutes. 
Just over 3 minutes later Fredrik Sjostrom showed why he is so dangerous and that is because of his speed. A dump in from Betts took a good bounce off the corner boards. Sjostrom swooped in and went around the net, putting the puck in before Biron had any idea what was happening. The Rangers continued their dominance and put the exclamation point on their first period when Michal Rozsival ripped a shot from the point past Biron for a powerplay goal and a 4-0 lead. 
The Ranger proceeded to hang on to this one winning by a score of 4-3. Steve Valiquette was in goal and made some spectacular saves in the third period to preserve the Ranger lead. Despite a bad non-call that led to the Flyers second goal, Vally got the win and gave Henrik Lundqvist a good rest. The Rangers are now 4-0 and will put that record to the test on Monday vs Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. 
Out in the desert, the Phoenix Coyotes had their season opener at home vs the Columbus Blue Jackets. Plenty of young guys began their NHL careers with Phoenix as Kevin Porter, Viktor Tikhonov, and Mikkel Boedker all made their debuts while Kyle Turris starts his first full professional season. Olli Jokinen was making his Coyotes debut and he didn't disappoint.
Just six minutes in, Kyle Turris made a great pass to find Jokinen in the slot who whipped it by Pascal LeClaire for a 1-0 lead on the powerplay. This was a good start considering the Coyotes powerplay was horrendous last year. Kevin Porter got his first NHL point on this play getting the secondary assist behind Turris. 
With another powerplay towards the latter part of the first period, the Coyotes capitalized again. Off the faceoff, Peter Mueller was fed the puck and he used his great slapshot to beat LeClaire for a 2-0 lead. A very good start for the Coyotes. 
The second period was not a good period for Phoenix but Ilya Bryzgalov kept them in it letting in only one goal during the frame to Derick Brassard on the powerplay.
In the third, Keith Yandle got his first of the season as his slapshot found its way through the crowd and into the back of the net. The Coyotes went on to win by a score of 3-1.
A big piece of the Coyotes win was the physicality of the game. Ed Jovanovski, David Hale, and Daniel Winnik all had big hits in a very physical game. It was a good start for Phoenix but Wayne Gretzky will surely make the team improve on playing a full 60 minutes. Bryzgalov has to work on rebound control a bit more because team will not always miss those opportunities. 
The Coyotes travel to Anaheim tonight as they start a 4 game road trip that will make stops in Anaheim, Chicago, Ottawa, and Montreal. This will be a tough test for the Coyotes who were a very good road team last year. They will not have an easy time of beating any of these teams. Playing the Ducks tonight in their home opener it will be very hard to come away with a victory. The Quackers are coming off a loss to the San Jose Sharks this past Thursday to the Sharks and will be looking to get on the winning side of things as soon as possible. 
It has not been announced who will be starting this game for Phoenix but you can bet JS Giguere will be in the for the Ducks. The Coyotes will really have to put in a hard effort to make sure they come away with two points tonight. They will have to play a much better defensive game and capitalize on the powerplay. The Ducks don't have alot of big names on offense but they can still put goals up on the board. Look for Wayne Gretzky to possibly put in Brian McGratton with Todd Fedoruk certainly staying in for tonight's tilt. 

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