Saturday, 17 November 2007

Also Known As

It occurred to me yesterday as I was reading the news that certain hockey cities get a name for what may or may not have been accompished there. For example, Edmonton is called "The City of Champions" due to the success of their teams, including the great Oilers dynasty of the 1980s. Detroit has long been regarded as "Hockeytown, USA", although that has come under debate in recent weeks. Vancouver, for the longest time, was regarded as "a goalie's graveyard" due to the lack of success and staying power a goalie in Vancouver seemed to have. However, I believe that another city should have that title: Phoenix.

One of the also-rans in the Pacific Division, the Phoenix Coyotes are literally a place where goaltenders go to die. Since their inaugural season in the desert in 1996, the Coyotes have used a total of 22 goaltenders in 12 years of hockey. The problem is that only a few of these goaltenders are still around in the game today. This means that Phoenix is a place where goaltenders go to die.

Only Nikolai Khabibulin and Brent Johnson have escaped Phoenix to play more than two seasons after leaving "The Graveyard". So who are these goalies who have landed in Phoenix and fallen off the face of the Earth?

In no particular order, here are the 22 goaltenders used thus far in Coyotes history: Pat Jablonski, Parris Duffus, Nikolai Khabibulin, Darcy Wakaluk, Jimmy Waite, Scott Langkow, Mikhail Shtalenkov, Robert Esche, Sean Burke, Bob Essensa, Patrick DesRochers, Zac Bierk, Brian Boucher, Jean-Marc Pelletier, Brent Johnson, Curtis Joseph, David Leneveu, Philippe Sauvé, Mikael Tellqvist, Alex Auld, David Aebischer, and Ilya Bryzgalov.

If you hadn't already heard, the Coyotes picked up Bryzgalov off waivers early Saturday morning. If I'm Bryzgalov, I'd be worried. The Coyotes expect him to come into Phoenix and play as well as he did in Anaheim. The problem is the Phoenix's defensive core is nowhere near as talented as Anaheim's unit, and the systems the two teams play are entirely different.

Bryzgalov will be facing the LA Kings tonight in his first game as a Desert Dog. He should know the Kings fairly well, having watched them in the last two games that Anaheim played. However, I'd still be worried about facing an improving Kings team behind a relatively young and inexperience defensive unit. The Coyotes have four starting defensemen who are 24 years-old. There isn't an all-star defenseman on this team, and that includes Ed Jovanovski and Derek Morris.

In fact, in three consecutive games against the San Jose Sharks, the Coyotes lost all three by a combined score of 15-1. They lost 4-1 on November 10th, with Steve Reinprecht scoring at the nine-minute mark of the opening frame. The Coyotes have since gone 171 minutes without scoring a goal, losing 5-0 on November 12 and 6-0 on November 15.

The Coyotes' management had better do something than acquiring another goaltender whose confidence they can destroy with porous defence, anemic offence, and general disarray off the ice. This team is headed for a last-place finish in the NHL standings. The only advantage to that scenario is that they can draft first overall in 2008. Otherwise, it appears that another losing season is well on-track in the desert, and there's nothing Ilya Bryzgalov or any other goaltender can do to save it.

Phoenix: where goaltenders go to die.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Connie said...

Wow, a post that made me happy and sad at the same time. Don't worry, my mental health is fine.

I knew that Phoenix has been in dire need of someone in goal for a long time, but I had no idea they've cycled through (and killed) 22 goalies. Kinda depressing. And I think one or two from your list drifted through the Kings organization at one point or another. Oh David Aebischer, he was the next big thing for the Aves. What ever happened to that guy? And what about Cujo? Where's he?

I don't know why the Kings weren't playing with more desperation today. Both teams came into the game today on a losing streak (PHX 3 and LAK 2) and, overall, the game was kind of boring. (See my post)

I learned today that PHX has 5 rookies on their roster?! That's crazy talk. of now, with Calder on IR, the Kings have 3 rookies on their roster. But the guy who was called up for Calder has been very visible on the ice, so it'll be interesting to see what happens when Calder returns.

Last comment: I like how the last two sentences of your post are completely different in tone. haha.