Sharks Top Coyotes 3-0, Preseason Ends With A Whimper
The Coyotes were shut out for another preseason game – that’s three in a row for those counting at home – and finished the last of their warmup contests 0-5-1 for preseason, a bit of foreshadowing for what we could be in store for across the next 82 games this season.
The Coyotes gave up two goals to Joe Pavelski and another from Tomas Hertl, for the most part leaving goalie Mike Smith to fend for himself on odd man rushes. The team struggled through large parts of the game stringing passes together or setting up breakouts out of their own zone, often missing the lead man. Of the few bright spots available, Jordan Martinook continually finds himself in the right place at the right time. If one of the other, more skilled youngsters had his knack for finding the right spot on the ice we could easily be looking at this year’s version of last year’s Filip Forsberg/Johnny Gaudreau/Mark Stone. Instead, it’s Martinook in those spots and that’s not exactly an offensive dynamo waiting to happen. Still, Dave Tippett was once again impressed saying after the game that “the only guy that stood out (on the ice) was Martinook”.
I’d disagree on the only guy, as Max Domi was often in the thick of it but his wheels still seem to be a bit faster than his stick or his mind. Despite that, he had some nice shifts and a few crafty plays that often went nowhere because the rest of his line of Vermette and Duclair were MIA for the majority of the night from my vantage point. Duclair did finally slot home the Coyotes first goal in the bonus overtime exhibition
since the expansion team was announced since Vermette scored against the Sharks in the 2nd period on September 25th. Beyond that, however, I wasn’t too impressed with any of the forwards including Dylan Strome.
Mike Smith had a decent night, but the same cannot be said for the defense. They continually allowed open looks on Smith and the final two goals were odd-man-rushes that Smith had little more than a 50/50 chance against due to the breakdowns in defense. Tippett said he felt Smith “played well tonight”, and minus the first goal it certainly seemed that he is rounding into better form than he had last season.
If it truly came down to this last game for evaluations, I can’t see Duclair or Strome making enough of a case for themselves to stay in this exhibition. I’m hopeful both will stay with Duclair being a permanent fixture and Strome getting at least the 9 game look, but if I were betting on the cuts I’d say Duclair/Strome/Domingue will be the names marked off come Sunday morning.
Now comes the interminable wait for the final cuts and for Oct. 9th to roll around. Win, lose, or draw, thankfully it’s almost here.