Leafs and Coyotes Play in the Battle of Two Poorly Coached Teams
I'll save you the traditional game recap, as they are available all over the place, and even more so since the Coyotes played the Leafs, and the Leafs are from Toronto which is the hockey media capital of the world.
Instead, i'll just provide some of my observations about the game which the Coyotes managed to win 3-2.
First, I thought it was a pretty awful game. It began with the Coyotes out-shooting the Leafs 17-4 for the first half of it, with the 'Yotes jumping out to a three goal lead early in the second. Just as Toronto started to realize the game had already started, Arizona went into hibernation and tried to hang to the lead.
Like in Washington on Sunday, once the Coyotes had their big lead, they sat back and let the other team back into the game. This is a concerning trend, but it is knit-picking maybe a little, since a two game winning streak is pretty sweet, all things considered about this season so far.
My thoughts are that a hockey game is way better to watch when both teams are competing hard and in this one, it felt like neither of the two teams was playing hard at the same time.
Second, I thought Toronto Coach Randy Carlyle's decision to start James Reimer was just absolutely idiotic. Sure, the guy played great in a win vs Chicago last Saturday, but you have a number one goalie who is obviously much more talented, and to start out your roadtrip with the back-up is, frankly, dumb. In the NHL, teams rarely win with a two-goalie system and inviting the so called goalie controversy just seems antithetical to how you're supposed to manage a team.
Last night the Leafs came out flat, but Reimer wasn't able to hold them in the game until they got it going. So, bad decision on the soon to be fired Carlyle.
As for Arizona, I was excited to see the debut of Gormley for this season, but I barely saw anything. Tippett, intent seemingly on running his two best players into the ground by playing them 30 minutes per night, gave Gormley only 9 minutes of ice-time, which means it was pretty hard to judge his game. For what it's worth, he took a penalty and had two shots.
Stone also only played 8 minutes, meaning that for 5/6ths of the game, the Coyotes played with 4 defensemen.
I thought Reider looked speedy and that he played well, I look forward to seeing more of him. I also thought Sam Gagner played well, when he played. He got a pretty nice goal on a horrendous give-away by the Leafs in the first, but I can't seem to figure Tippett out.
He has a talented 25 year old potential stud. Say what you want about Sam Gagner, but no one can deny this kid is a magician with the puck when he wants to be. Instead of utilizing this by playing him on the top line, either as a winger or a centre, Tippett is playing him third line minutes. Last night he had six minutes less ice-time than Vermette. Most games he lines up with Korpikoski and Klinkhammer as his wingers.
While Vermette is a useful player and I probably sound like a broken record, he is no first liner. But Gagner might be. I do like that Gagner has been getting some shifts with Boedker, but they should be first line shifts and they should be out on the first line power-play.
This team just seems beholden to the vets in an unhealthy way. They start Smith when he struggles, they give all the prime ice-time to Vermette and Doan despite the fact it's very obvious that it's hurting the teams ability to compete. And outside of OEL, Tippett seems wary to trust any player not named Doan, Smith, Yandle or Vermette.
The healthiest thing for the future of this franchise would be to immediately trade Doan and Vermette for futures, and, I hate to say it, to fire Dave Tippett.
It's just insane to me that a team that struggles to score doesn't skate it's best offensive players more. You could say the same thing about Carlyle and his tendency to play Bozak over Kadri, which is even worse than anything Tippett does and should be cause for his immediate dismissal as well.
Anyways, here's a prediction you can almost take to the bank: Neither Tippett or Carlyle will last the season on their respective teams.
Somewhere Ron Wilson is rubbing his hands together like Mr. Burns and having a good laugh.