The Coyotes were in pretty high spirits before the game. I think it had to do with them getting their new jerseys. They are without a doubt - awesome. But there was a lot of banter and chatting between players between warm ups.
Right off the bat, I recognized that the Bulldogs had two skaters that I had not seen before. I was warned to watch for one of them. These two players were also cherry picking. I did my best to reduce their cherry picking, and be prepared for them. I did a fairly good job of it from what I can remember. Where I got burned was I pinched more than once that night. And sure enough, I'd be in the circle, and they'd get the puck outside of the zone. I sprinted to get back and help my defensive partner, but with that big of a head start, I'm not catching up to anything. Luckily he's good, so I'm not super concerned by it. He also would pinch a lot, and I'd have a lot of two on ones. I did a decent job of disrupting them.
There was one play where the skater had a break away. I got back and was able to disrupt him just at the top of the circle. The problem is that when you have two guys who can't skate well bumping into each other, they're going to fall. I took him down. No penalty. By the time I found the puck, my partner was back, and I from my knees, I was able to throw it behind the net just strong enough for him to get it and skate it out of the zone. The second time that I had to get back to break up a one on one, I wouldn't catch him. Instead, I'd have to dive, fully extend my arm and hope I would knock the puck off his stick. I dove, felt something hit my stick and then I just heard my goalie yelling. I looked up and the I could see the trail from where the puck slid into the corner. I had gotten it.
I did have a big problem though with one on one's. I couldn't figure out how to play a one on one. It seems so simple, but he'd just keep walking around me and getting a great shot in the slot. He burned me the exact same way three times, and it wasn't even a good move. I had another point where I couldn't decide if I should be aggressive or pull back in the neutral zone. I would pull back, but then I went back too far and gave the skater too much space. I'm having a difficult time judging speed and making decisions like that when one on one. I'm going to really have to watch it.
Offensively though, I felt I played very well. Perhaps even a bit too aggressive, or even hoggish. After the game I tried counting my shots and I had at least 10. I had two when I brought the puck up on the rush. I had three in the span of 15 seconds. I had two right from the face off. None went in. It wasn't until the third that I really tried to start putting the puck in the net. For example, it was almost like there was a cycle going on. The puck would come up the boards, and I would pick it up. I'd walk past the forward(s) and get a shot in the slot, I'd circle back to the point quickly. I turn and look, the puck is coming back up the boards again to me. I did it again, and again. They were good shots two. The third, I was more concerned about speed, and did a snap shot to change it up because the first two shots didn't go in. The goalie had a clear view of it though on all of those.
In the second, I made an awesome break out pass to the winger in the neutral zone. It was a nice saucer pass that was about 40 feet long. He had no one in front of him, and I put it over two bull dog sticks, and put it right on his tape. I loved it because I had been working on the saucer pass here and there. But it would roll off his stick because there was too much sauce on it, and it was his back hand. So close!
On my second to last shift, I put on a show at our own blue line. I had two bull dog players trying to enter the zone. But they had no speed. So I stepped up and stopped them. It was in our feet in this small area 7-10 feet from the boards. While battling, one player who had been throwing elbows all game hit me in the face with an elbow. I did not appreciate this. Despite wearing a full cage, you still get a lot of the force on your chin. In the next stab for the puck, I would also place my shoulder into that player, putting him on his butt. The stab would then knock the puck to the wall. I wouldn't get their first but I was strong on my stick, lift his and used my momentum to take that puck away from him and break into their zone. It was nice because on the break, I had two options for passes. I didn't want to shoot because I felt I had hogged the puck the last few shifts. I passed to the guy in the middle, and he got a shot off but it would not go in.
Defensively I played a sub-par game. I wasn't happy about being burned the way I was three different times. I wasn't pleased that I had put myself in a position to get burned the way I did. Offensively, I love that I got the chances I did, but I think I hogged the puck a bit too much. The Coyotes would go on to win 10-2.