Ducks Hammer Coyotes 6-2 in Preseason Opener

Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE

Don't get too excited, it's preseason.

Final Score: Anaheim Ducks 6, Phoenix Coyotes 2

First Period Recap: This game started off with a BANG! Only 48 seconds in Teemu Selanne opened the scoring for the Ducks on a play where it seemed like all three Ducks forwards (Selanne, Jakob Silfverberg and Peter Holland) were passing the puck uncontested around the crease for about 47 seconds. I have to assume that the vast majority of the squad Phoenix iced played last night in Los Angeles because they came out as flat as can be.

Before Phil Hulett was finished announcing Teemu's goal, Sami Vatanen made it 2-0. Unfortunately I missed this goal and the replays, so I can't really provide any further insight. But that wasn't all, less than two minutes later with Luca Sbisa in the box for tripping Nolan Yonkman unleashed a slapper from the point that sailed straight past Coyotes' goalie Mark Visentin.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by Yonkman throughout the game as a big stay at home defenseman. He didn't play a whole ton, and is probably well behind Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm and Mark Fistric for a gig with the big club, but if injuries strike the backline I could see him filling in.

After the Yonkman shorty, the Coyotes took three consecutive penalties, creating an extended two man advantage. The Ducks' makeshift power play, which hasn't been practiced yet in any of the training camp sessions, possessed the puck easily but was unable to capitalize. For the most part on all of the power plays throughout the game the standard forward lines were kept together with some combination of Vatanen, Lindholm and Sbisa on the points.

Before the period was over Daniel Winnik (centering Stefan Noesen and Max Friberg) tapped in a rebound resulting from a 2-on-1 rush between Cogliano and Noesen, to give no doubt to the meaningless result of the game.

The other highlight of the first period was Sbisa stepping up to absolutely cream a Coyote along the left wing boards in the Phoenix zone. That was also the highlight of Sbisa's night, the rest of the time he was the same old Sbisa that we've come to know and tolerate.

I came to the game hoping to keep an eye on the defense, but in the first it was pretty difficult because the Ducks didn't have to play any. The Ducks were the sharper team by a mile in winning the puck and keeping it. Hiller wasn't' really tested in the slightest, which is probably why hes stayed in for the second.

Second Period Recap: The middle frame was more even. Guillaume Latendresse got the Coyotes on the board early on, but the constant stream of penalties finally hurt them as Lindholm scored with a wrister from the top of the circles on a two man advantage.

On the whole, Lindholm had a decent game with flashes of brilliance, however there are plenty of things for him to work on. He was knocked off the puck relatively easily when going back for it in his own zone on multiple occasions. It's possible that I'm being nit picky because I specifically focused on his game all night, but I would say his decision making isn't quite up to par yet. He had the tendency to hold the puck a little too long for my liking, trying to take on defenders and had a few curious pinches that resulted in turnovers because he wasn't where his teammates expected him to be. On the other hand, his skating ability is so strong that the mistakes he made were never really catastrophic.

The most egregious error of the game for the Ducks came in the second period at the hands of, you guessed it, Brad Staubitz. With the Ducks on a relatively standard breakout, he inexplicably decided to throw the puck right back into his own crease, onto the tape of a waiting Coyote. Luckily for Staubitz the attacker bobbled the puck and failed to make anything of the Grade A scoring chance that was handed to him on a silver platter.

The final Ducks goal of the game came at the end of the second when Emerson Etem tapped home a rebound laying in the crease for what seemed like an eternity, similar to Winnik's in the first period. The difference between the two being that Etem's came at the end of a prolonged shift in the offensive zone rather than on the rush.

Third Period Recap: The third period was largely an exercise in clock management. Chris Brown notched one more for the Coyotes off of a neutral zone turnover and had time to wrist the puck past Frederik Andersen because Lindholm tripped in his retreat.

The only other real moment of note in the final frame was another dodgy decision by Staubitz. Sbisa was hit as he released a shot from the point (or slightly after) and Staubitz took it upon himself to stand up for his Swiss teammate by dropping the gloves with Mark Louis. He won the fight by default, landing on top of Louis and somewhat frighteningly driving his face/head into the ice, but his night ended there as he received five for fighting, two for instigating and a ten minute misconduct with only 12:32 left in the game. Louis also got a cross checking minor and a fighting major so the penalties evened out.

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The Good: Teemu and Silfverberg looked very comfortable together. It's hard to describe the way that they worked together. I almost want to call it a cycle, but it wasn't the type of cycle down low on the boards that you see from Getzlaf and Perry. It was more like they were constantly in motion, swapping positions and sort of swirling around each other, tipping and flipping little cute passes to each other. It's certainly not to the same level of a mind meld, but the closest comparison I can make is to the Sedins. We'll have to see how it works against a real NHL defense before truly judging it though.

It was also interesting to see them playing with Peter Holland, not sure if that's an extremely encouraging sign for the young center or just a desire to not play as many NHL tested players in the preseason opener, though. I didn't really see Holland actively involved in their little routine very often.

The Bad: It's hard to put this in the 'Bad' category, because the kid is skilled without a doubt, but Rickard Rakell is still pretty clearly a junior player to me. His hands are just silky smooth, and it's a ton of fun to watch at times. The problem is that he knows it and he wants to use them all the time. He's constantly looking to dangle around guys and toss no-look backhand passes around. While that's all well and good in a preseason game that you're leading 4-0 after 20 minutes, it's not the most practical in a real life situation.

Then again, there were these two kids who were quite fond of the toe drag that broke into the league in 2006 and it's worked out rather well for them since.

Another thing that 'Bad' is an overstatement for was Shea Theodore. The 2013 first rounder didn't show the flashes of brilliance that Lindholm did and had a very surprisingly difficult time transitioning from backward skating defensive position to a shoulder to shoulder battle as attacking players passed him on the rush. Of course, that's pretty much as advertised and we all expected him to go back to Seattle of the WHL for at least a season or two.

The Ugly: As if it wasn't clear from the above. Brad Staubitz. The only consolation that I take from his likelihood of making the team is that one of our many more talented forwards won't have to sit in the press box for the majority of the season.

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Most Valuable Duck:

3rd MVD: Dan Winnik - was Dan Winnik. Everything that we loved about him last year was still there. His ability to move the puck out of his own zone and possess it deep in the opposition end and he even found himself in position to score a goal like he was constantly in the first couple weeks of last season.

2nd MVD: Teemu Selanne - had the jump in his step and as mentioned before looked like he was having fun with Silfverberg. Don't waste it all in the preseason Teemu.

1st MVD: Andrew Cogliano - was the number one star in the building and it's tough to argue against. He was flying all over the ice and ended up with three assists in three entirely different situations (despite the Winnik and Etem goals looking similar in the end result). And it's starting to look good for Cogs and Etem to start the season together on more than just the PK, which I'm excited to see. What else would you expect, Cogs loves playing Phoenix.

Next Game: Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 7:00 pm PT, vs. Los Angeles

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