The Coyotes opened the season at home last night and it was a great experience. I saw a lot more Coyotes jerseys than Penguins on the way in and throughout the arena. I’ve become used to seeing seas of whatever team we are playing with specks of Sedona red sprinkled throughout. The Coyotes fans were loud and I never heard the Penguins fans even try to be loud. It felt like a real home game.
The Coyotes came out ready to play despite playing in LA Friday night. The Penguins looked flat and not quite ready to play. It quickly became obvious the Penguins have no defense. I guess they will just depend on Crosby, and Kessel to score more goals than the other team, even though that hasn’t worked out so far.
Tobias Rieder opened the scoring and looked like a man possessed. He was constantly going to the net and looking for chances to score. I really liked the chemistry between Rieder and Duclair. Jordan Martinook scored the second of the Coyotes goals. He was in the right place when the puck emerged from the scrum.
“It was just a scrum at the net and the puck popped loose, so I just shoveled it into the net,” said Martinook. “I think I put it in twice to make sure. It’s not pretty, but that’s what we’ve got to do.”
We don’t need pretty, we need wins.
Kessel scored the lone Penguins goal. It was his first goal as a Penguin.
Toward the end of the third period, I was getting a little nervous. The Penguins seemed to have woken up and the Coyotes started to show a bit of wear from playing in LA the night before. Thankfully, they kept playing hard and held off the Penguins to get the win.
Grossman played a physical game. I was actually quite impressed with his play. Elliott, a last-minute addition to the lineup due to an upper-body injury to Z, started off a bit slow/nervous but eventually settled into the game. Overall I thought our defense played quite well. And Boedker did much better on the point than in Friday’s game. I think he learned his lesson.
Mike Smith was the number one star and it was well-deserved. Mike Smith looks like the old Smith. He worked hard this off-season and the work is paying off. He looks confident in net. He is making smarter decisions when out of the net to play the puck. He is making the saves look easy.
The last time the Coyotes started 2-0-0? 2009-2010 when they opened against the Kings and Penguins.
I am trying not to get too excited. We are just two games in. I would love to keep seeing wins and everyone playing so well, but it is a long season. The team is definitely more fun to watch than last season. I could have taken a nap during most games last season and not missed anything. This year the Coyotes have played the first two games with energy and the full 60 minutes. I was on the edge of my seat last night. I hope they keep up this level of play.