The first game of the NHL preseason is a haphazard ritual, its beauty comparable to gargling the morning breath out of one’s mouth at the crack of dawn, its timing and coordination no better than of a pack of hyenas attempting to divide a carcass of raw meat.
There is no need here to romanticize the hockey-viewing experience of 12,544 announced spectators at Honda Center — it was pretty ugly — but there were a few takeaways.
First, the quick and dirty game synopsis:
Igor Bobkov played roughly the first 30 minutes and John Gibson played the last 30. It was the first NHL game action of any sort for either goalie (Bobkov was at last year’s NHL camp and did not appear in an exhibition game), but the seven goals couldn’t totally be pinned on them. “We’ve got to work on defensive-zone coverage. That’s what we have to work on, obviously,” head coach Randy Carlyle said.
Sean Zimmerman, Kyle Palmieri, Andrew Cogliano and Nate Guenin scored goals for the Ducks, who never led in the game. The offensive effort wasn’t much to blink at, either.
“We just seemed to be slapping the puck around in too many situations,” Carlyle said. “From our standpoint it’s an evaluation game.”
On with the evaluating then …
Cogliano, mostly a center in Edmonton, said he had never played a full game at left wing before tonight. Peter Holland was at center and Teemu Selanne at right wing on his line, and they combined to score a goal in the second period when Cogliano tapped in the rebound of Holland’s shot with Curtis McElhinney out of position. Carlyle said he’s planning to try Cogliano both at left wing and center.
More Carlyle on Cogliano: “He didn’t, from my standpoint, play anywhere near what he was capable of playing, but we had a few guys in that category.” Carlyle already alluded to Cogliano’s untapped potential on Sunday and it seems like the expectations are pretty high for the 24-year-old.
Four ex-Ducks were in the Coyotes’ lineup: McElhinney, Petteri Nokelainen, Kyle Chipchura and Nathan Oystrick. Chipchura fed Nokelainen on a breakaway at the net for empty-net goal with 17 seconds left.
Carlyle singled out Holland and defenseman Nate Guenin as two players who “were separating themselves a little bit from the others.”
Like Holland, Emerson Etem was playing on a line with two more experienced players (Saku Koivu and Palmieri) and looked good using his speed to get open, then feeding Palmieri for a goal, early in the second period. “He had his flashes,” Carlyle said of Etem. “His game is about speed and taking the puck wide, but I didn’t think it was as evident as it normally is in his situation.”
Cogliano on Holland (who is the subject of tomorrow’s notebook): “He kind of reminds me of Getzlaf. He’s big, got good hands, he’s smart. … He looks like he can fit in now.”
San Jacinto native Jake Newton had the primary assist on Guenin’s power-play goal in the third period. Newton and Cogliano (both plus-1) were the only Ducks with plus ratings.
Reigning Hobey Baker winner Andy Miele (goal, two assists) wreaked havoc on the Ducks’ defense. If the rookie center keeps it up as the quality of competition increases, he could become the electric scorer the Coyotes have lacked in recent years.
Great job with the pregame video tribute to Ruslan Salei, along with the other former NHLers who lost their lives this summer. I saw the same video as a segment on NHL Live! today. Definitely got the crowd going.