A workmanlike victory last night for the Preds as they blank the Desert Dogs 2-0. The Preds D absolutely stifled the Coyotes through two periods, allowing only 8 SOG. The offense poured 27 shots at Ilya Bryzgalov but only J.P. Dumont was able to score, blasting a wicked one timer from the high slot. The Preds gave up several good scoring chances in the third, allowing Phoenix to get good looks from the low slot. Fortunately, Pekka Rinne was able to clean up any defensive breakdowns and recorded his 7th shutout of the season. Pekka appears to bear no ill effects from the stomach flu that shut him down for two games.
The team emerged relatively healthy from this contest, although Radek Bonk now looks doubtful for the remainder of this trip as his injured shoulder has not responded as hoped. Vern Fiddler is wearing a walking boot on his right foot, but is expected to be able to play tomorrow night against L.A.
Some thoughts about last night: the crowd was announced at 13,197, but there did not appear to be more than 10,000 people at the game. This has to be the deadest arena in the NHL as far as energy from the crowd. Pred fans cannot underestimate what they bring to the team as far as energy for a game in the Sommet Center. I was sitting in a suite on the opposite side of the arena from the team benches and during the course of the game could hear our coaches yelling to players on the ice. An incredibly lethargic and dead atmosphere inside of Jobing.com arena. The arena itself is a beautiful facility and a great venue for hockey. The problem for the Coyotes is that not enough people come out to see the team, and I have to believe that the lack of energy affects the home team. Pred fans- you are to be commended for the energy you bring to our barn for each home game.
As the Preds continue this trip, scoring must improve. We will continue to be without our leading scorer in Jason Arnott and leading faceoff man Radek Bonk. This is the hand we have been dealt, and this team is resilient. The hustle and effort is being shown by every player on the ice. All lines will have to continue to shoot the puck and crash the crease. It is basic hockey, and it is the type of hockey we will need to play to continue to pick up points. There is among the players a healthy sense of what they have to accomplish on this trip, and I expect them to continue to bring the effort that it will take to pick up these precious points. The puck drops at 7:30 tomorrow night. You know what you have to do, boys.