Tag Archives: Phoenix Coyotes

Who has the right moves? A summer guide to fantasy hockey

The NHL Entry Draft and July 1 dealing deadlines have mixed the 30 NHL teams into goulash. Yes, it’s a good thing, yet trying to make sense of your fantasy roster next year, could prove enlightening as much research needs to be done. There are many building blocks required to match the force of a Stanley Cup contending teams, but like kids in a candy store agents, players, and managers are gobbling up their sweet deals for next season’s ice time.

I’m already preparing my teams and ranking players for my leagues, and poking around rosters. Should be out in the sun, but the hot weather has me thinking of ice and snow to cool down.

Chicago isn’t the same team that stepped onto the ice last year. Taking out some top players is asking your top guns to perform with more gusto, as Toews, Keith, Sharp and company should be playing hard. If you can get them, get them.

The Western Conference exhibited some dominance last year, and they will continue. The Eastern Conference needs to bulk up and find some identities. These teams are on my radar:

Eastern Conference:

New Jersey Devils- Hedberg backing Brodeur sounds good to me. I hope Hedberg sees some ice time, because Marty needs to rest. The Devils should be able to kick it into the Cup finals with Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, David Clarkson and a whole host of good options for your team. When in doubt, go toward the Devils.

Buffalo Sabres– Tyler Myers and Ryan Miller are top fantasy draft choices. Myers was rookie of the year winning the Calder Memorial Trophy, and Miller taking home the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender. But is this enough? Don’t draft too deep into the Sabres bench because everyone scored equally.

Atlanta Thrashers– are in serious building efforts as the landlords realize more effort must be made in the quality of their brick and mortar. Taking Andrew Ladd and Dustin Bufyglien from the Blackhawks was just plain smart. Ladd has quietly worked his way into scoring zones over the past two seasons. He’s the guy who creeps into fantasy teams due to injured wingers, and for the last push of the season. Dustin B. needs no introduction; he is a slayer who can deliver with his bulk and intellect because hockey is both mental and physical.

Tampa Bay Lightning- Steve Yzerman is all I can say. He’s golden. Piling on the players to pay the piper, the new GM knows his hockey both on the ice and off under the leadership of the Illitch family, who created a dynasty both adored and despised. That’s some power. Nittymaki is a good fantasy goalie option, and Martin St. Louis goes early. Steven Stamkos has won me over his second season matching Sidney Crosby is goals.

Western Conference:

Colorado Avalanche
– youth movement continues to catch all. The Avalanche must continue to play at the top of their game. When they sat in the top three in the West, critics said the team couldn’t keep the momentum and they didn’t. Striving to make the playoffs kept fans on their toes and gives Colorado a head start for next season.  Avalanche players that are must-haves include Matt Duchene, Craig Anderson, Paul Stastny and Chris Stewart. Other players are excelling quickly and depth in the Avs means depth for your rotation needs.

St. Louis Blues
– they looked so rough last year, but great the year before. Now, with a few bells and whistles in goal gaining Jaroslav Halak’s contract for a steal, the Blues continued their rally by securing forward Alex Steen on the roster. Steen is a breakout player who could boost the Blues. Alex Steen will be on my fantasy roster. The guy is solid. Halak is tops too.

Edmonton Oilers
– not because they have a chance at the Cup, but I want to see Tyler Hall play in the NHL. I want to see if the Oilers can do what the Islanders are still holding onto. Take a look at videos of Hall placing the puck in net: Ovechkin like but more humble. Draft Hall.

Vancouver Canucks
– has taken over the San Jose Sharks pick for me next year. While I’m curious to see how the Sharks unfold with the new Nittymaki agenda, I turn my head toward the border and offer up Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and the Sedins to the hockey gods. Luongo is a stretch, yet could remold into his former self this season.

Phoenix Coyotes
– Coach of the year,Dave Tippett, is tipping the team in the right direction. And my Petr Prucha posts get a lot of hits on my blog. Wolski, Yandle, no shortage of talent. Shane Doan, super nice guy, disappointed a bit last season. Goaltending is not a problem with Bryzgalov.

Other notables getting a nod:
Los Angeles Kings– love the Johnson-Doughty thing they got going on there. Bordering on the Cinderella team last season, the young Kings have some great abundance to flaunt with all the California hockey hype during the NHL Entry Draft. Good options for fantasy streaks.

Nashville Predators
– adding Matthew Lombardi is a good move in not only points, but he’s a bright spot for you face-off category ranking among the top five usually.  You just have to love this line-up and wonder what is happening out there? Well, they are good but have met opponents that are better. Look at Shea Weber for certain. A lot of great options on this team not to be overlooked by your management staff.

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Rewards at the NHL awards

The NHL awards were held Wednesday in Las Vegas Wednesday. No surprises really, just a typical nice guy awards show without much hoopla despite the opening by Snoop Dogg.

The Calder Memorial Trophy:  Tyler Myers

Tyler Myers was an amazing rookie. I grabbed him as a free agent on both of my fantasy teams and was praising the guy all year. He wasn’t the Sabre player I expected to be the breakout candidate but his tenacity and wandering defense make him tops on my list. He clocked the most ice time of any Sabres player

Frank J. Selke Trophy: Pavel Datsyuk

The best defensive forward, no duh. Can he do anything wrong? He was criticized for the lackluster performance for the Red Wings, but he took off and kept the playoffs in reach. Can’t deny his talents and lasting abilities for the Wings franchise.

Ted Lindsay Award- Alex Ovechkin

The more Alex speaks, the more I like his nonchalant attitude. He kept talking despite the music, the next presenter and cues to leave the stage. Alex doesn’t care and wants his time because he’s earned it.

Jack Adams Award-Dave Tippett

This was a well-deserved award to the head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, who turned this group around with the vision to create a playoff team. The Coyotes have been decent in recent years, but lacked the leadership to take it to the next level. With the ownership and attendance woes in the desert, the players played with heart and determination to make the team noticeable.

Vezina Trophy-Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller fans that believed he was the best goaltender at the winter games felt losing the gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics was a blow. Miller knows he’s that good but is humble. He’s the best of the best.

Bill Masterston Memorial Trophy-Jose Theodore
With 23 straight games unbeaten, Theodore somehow flew under the radar on some fantasy teams. But not mine. Theodore has had a few bumpy years of play and personal tragedy that made this award a confirmation to his ability to maintain composure in net. Most of us would have completely checked out.

King Clancy Memorial Trophy- Shane Doan

Leadership on and off the ice, and just a nice guy landed Doan this award. I met Doan outside of Coyotes practice signing autographs with his son. Mothers love him because he is involved in the community and cares about the children and their growth. Fans love him because he cares for their community.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy -Martin St. Louis
It’s about time St. Louis won this recognition as the epitome of sportsmanship. Hard worker, solid numbers and great attitude make St. Louis a fantastic fantasy pick for you roster but get him quick.

Mark Messier Leadership award- Sidney Crosby

This is a new award and is evidence of how well Messier’s internship with the Rangers has influence the NHL. Any openings? Is Messier passing on his magic to Crosby or does Messier want some of Crosby’s magic?

Norris Trophy- Duncan Keith
Since the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, I’m not surprised with this pick. Any player who sacrifices seven teeth during the Cup run should get something big!

Hart Memorial Trophy-Henrik Sedin
Tough competition here- Ovechkin and Crosby. The Swede walked away with the prize and kudos for the great year that the Vancouver Canucks had.

Western Conference Wows

Experts have taken their picks, but the wow factor in the Western Conference has delivered on its promise of being the premier conference this season. So many teams have so many guns that can fire as seen in the jimmying of the standings. Now embarking into the depth of the quarterfinals, compelling match-ups make for some great hockey.

San Jose can beat Colorado. But how did the youngest team in the NHL stun the Sharks in the first game? Game 2 in the Shark Tank bit brutally on the Sharks who battled an unexpected talented eighth seed. The scoring was insanely upbeat with six goals in the second period as goals were exchanged back and forth in a rally to win. Desperation won that game for San Jose who could not lose on home ice in that situation. Devin Setoguchi stepped up after having a mediocre year and scored two goals including the OT goal to give the Sharks a lifeline. Much was expected of Setoguchi, but seems his fervor for winning is back.  Now that the series heads to Denver, the Avs may feel more relaxed but the Sharks are a great road team. Don’t forget the altitude in Denver that has caused gasping and tiring quickly of the visiting team. The Sharks took goaltender Craig Anderson to task in Game 3. With 51 saves on goal, and a goal in OT the Avs victory deflates the Sharks who trail in the series. Avs go up 2-1 in an anything goes attitude, totally Zen.

The Detroit Red Wings made it in decent positioning to meet the Phoenix Coyotes in their first road playoff game since 1991. Calder cup candidate, Jimmy Howard, has been put to the test by an impressive Coyotes team who proved they were not done in the desert. Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader returned from the minors just to make the playoffs and tenaciously took pucks away and made plays, including a goal to give the Wings the lead in the third period of Game 2. But Henrik Zetterberg rocked it with a hat trick, six shots on net, five hits, and won 10 of 19 face-offs, all in 17 minutes of ice time. Valteri Filppula also took home two goals and an assist. Coyote coach Dave Tippett has been praised for his turn around team making the playoffs and many say the choice candidate for the Jack Adams Award. Game 2 peaked with eleven points scored. Phoenix takes the lead in the series 2-1.

The Nashville Predators cannot be looked at as a pansy team who cannot beat the Chicago Blackhawks. Nashville is tough and they have nothing to lose. Shocking the Hawks at home with a 4-1 win must have caused some rioting on Michigan Ave. The downfall of Chicago could be their youth, but the productivity is there. The Nashville Predators are scrappers. No doubt the goaltending is a major issue with Antti Niemi lacking playoff experience, but can the blueliners keep the puck out of Niemi’s zone enough to win the series? Duncan Keith, Brent Sopel and Brent Seabrook are heavy hitters and can take the Hawks to the next level if they concentrate. Nashville can sneak up on their opponent. Series tied 1-1 after the Hawks got their mojo back sticking the Preds with a Game 2 shutout.

I’ve been impressed with the Los Angeles Kings this year, but I’m not betting on them to win against the Vancouver Canucks. Taking the Canucks to overtime in Game 1 proved some stamina and skill in the Kings, and their passion is there. But the Canucks are approaching their time to take the whole shebang. Perhaps the Canucks blueline is weaker than most other teams, and the Kings have Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson who may be enough to keep the Kings in the race. The Canucks are running out of time to play for the Stanley Cup. The Kings finally have some success, but the Canucks have been rolling and need to prove they are for real.  Look at top line performances in Kopitar, Smyth and Williams versus the Sedins and Alex Burrows as an indicator in production. Series tied 1-1 after the Kings made a surprising OT push in Game 2 with a goal by Anze Kopitar.

My roots are in the West, so it’s been a pleasure to see the Western Conference build up some strong teams that have taken the critics away from the hockey dominant Eastern Conference. Not saying that the Eastern Conference games are not as thrilling, but that’s another story. I’d love to see the Buffalo Sabres rectify their 1999 loss to the Dallas Stars, and to see Ryan Miller rewarded for his monumental goaltending abilities.

Detroit’s a Done Deal

Hanging on in the Western Conference, the Detroit Red Wings illustrated why they could be playing for the Stanley Cup this season. Detroit remains in a topsy-turvy situation with Nashville Predators, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Colorado Avalanche for placement within the conference. All healthy and ready to defend last year’s near victory, the Red Wings have been creating a buzz around their powerful play that looks like a championship team. Even the Naysayers’s reviews praise their talent and excellence of play yet the reluctance to come out and say that the Wings would be there till the end.

The Wings will not face the San Jose Sharks in the first round. Bad karma has inundated the Sharks in the past, and the Wings could bring the bad luck their way. The Sharks want to avoid the Wings in the first round; every NHL guru has stated that fact. But the other teams are dreading taking on the Motown momentum.

The Chicago Blackhawks are familiar with their Midwest neighbor yet most in the hockey world would not like to see either team out too quickly. Chicago’s stellar performance team would be missed further along in the playoffs, as it seems like a year where their chances for the Cup are quite good. However, the Hawks are young and playoff experience could be their downfall.

If Detroit has to face the Vancouver Canucks, I will cringe. Have you seen the Sedin line with bad boy Alex Burrows? If you haven’t witnessed their rigor and skill, you’re living under a rock. Burrows was the breakout player at the end of last year and he’s still showing the NHL audience what he can do. He’s one of the most exciting players to watch with awe-inspiring goals and a tough guy ability to rough up the game, and they love him in Vancouver.

The Phoenix Coyotes have played extremely well and hushed the harsh criticism early in the year. With their Czech line of Martin Hanzal-Petr Prucha-Radim Vrbata, they can dominate in play. Wojtek Wolski came via a trade and has stepped in for firepower. While the Coyotes are doing well, the Red Wings may be able to cause the Yotes to stumble. Yandle, Fiddler, are a just a few surprises Phoenix has to offer. Bryzgalov has been a steady force for Phoenix in net.

Nashville and Detroit are battling right now for points, and the Predators can take Detroit down if the Wings aren’t on their toes. I’ve seen it sitting in the third row, sold out crowd at Joe Louis Arena, and being stunned and in denial at the masterwork of Nashville taking control of the game. Their bench is deep too.

The Los Angeles Kings finally made it but they won’t last.Too little playoff experience will hurt in the end.Many players have stepped up such as Wayne Simmonds, Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty, but only Anze Kopitar can score the type of play needed to win. After the Olympic break, the Kings slid a bit.

We can add up all the points, look at the standings and predict outcomes. Well, try to predict an unpredictable state of circumstances. The San Jose Sharks are living proof of playoff  woes. No one really knows who will take the stretch for the Cup, but one thing is for sure, the Detroit Red Wings will be in the hunt.

Coyote Christmas

Some people visit museums, go shopping or sightsee while on vacation, but not me. On my agenda visiting Scottsdale was hockey.  This year I went to visit family, who are also Detroit Red Wing fans, in the desert.   Monday morning my “sister” Sheila called the Phoenix Coyotes’ about times for the morning skate.  Tuesday was the day.  We got a slow start and when we got there the players were already off the ice.  Next plan was to wait with the fans for autographs and pictures, all two of them.

I had a great time talking with hockey mom Christine and her son Chris who are in the photo with Robert Lang.  Christine is in a fan group Hockey Moms for Shane Doan, and Chris is a big Illya Brzgalov fan.   The Coyotes were very friendly and happy to stop for Christine, who was flagging the players down as they drove out into the parking lot.

A dust storm was brewing and the skies were beginning to show signs of rain, but I stuck it out to see one of my favorites players, Petr Prucha.  Yes, been a fan since the early New York Rangers days when Prucha was a hopeful to side with Jaromir Jagr and bring the cup to NYC.  I’m not giving the rock and roll sign in the photo, rather trying to keep my hair out of his face and mine for a good shot.

Peter Mueller was priceless.  I approached him in a black min-dress, cowboy boots and my card.    I introduced myself as an NHL writer.  I write about the NHL.  Peter looked at me with a funny look, “you’re an NHL writer?”  I assured him I was.   “You’re an NHL writer,” he said again but with more emphasis in making sure he heard me right and that he wasn’t a victim of a prank.

Captain Shane Doan came out last, as usual according to Christine, and stopped to sign our program.   Doan was very happy to talk and appreciated the fans.

My Christmas was a Coyote howling great experience. Thanks Christine and Chris for being such great fans to hang out with. Thanks Sheila for supporting my hockey habit.

Petr Prucha and Heidi

Illya Bryzgalov

Shane Doan

Rober Lang