Blackhawks enjoy home-away-from-home atmosphere in the desert

NHL WEST COMMENTARY

By DANIEL DULLUM

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Phoenix Coyotes enjoyed their largest crowd of the season Saturday at Jobing.com Arena, with an announced standing-room sellout attendance of 17,321 to watch the Desert Dogs do battle with Chicago.

While good news for the franchise’s bottom line, the bad news was that at least 10,000 of those fans were donning Blackhawks gear, yelling, “Go Hawks, Go.” This scenario left the Coyotes with the odd and frustrating task of trying to take the crowd out of its own building.

“It’s crazy. It seems like it’s always like that when we’re here,” Chicago left wing Brandon Bollis said following the Hawks’ 5-2 win. “I honestly think we had more fans here than (the Coyotes) did.”

To compound matters for the Coyotes, early turnovers and a team penalty for too many men on the ice gave Chicago a 5-on-3 power play less than two minutes into the game. Patrick Kane cashed in on the two-man advantage for the first Blackhawks goal, and by the midway point of the opening period, Chicago had a 12-3 advantage in shots and a 3-0 lead.

Phoenix came back with a pair of goals in the second period, but the damage was done. Bollis’ goal at 10:49 of the third period provided the visitors with some breathing room. An empty-net tally by Marian Hossa in the final minute finished the job for the NHL’s best team (44 points, 20-4-4), as they finished a seven-game road trip 6-1-0.

“It’s frustrating. You feel that, when (Chicago) is at the end of a long road trip, this is a game you can win,” Coyotes Coach Dave Tippett said. “When you’re playing the top team in the league, you can’t come out like we did in the first period.

“This is a good lesson for our team,” Tippett added. “We just have to play better. It’s an attitude.”

Yes, there was some grumbling about Phoenix being a transient sports market and it usually comes up in games like this, or against Detroit, Minnesota, Vancouver and other teams whose fans travel well. The NFL Cardinals have had the same problem for years. But as long as the tickets are sold, there are no complaints from the Bidwell family.

As for the Coyotes, until they start winning more consistently, nights like this will be the norm. But 17,321 is a terrific night at the box office, especially when facing stiff competition from Arizona State vs. University of Arizona football.

Larry Levitt on the NHL

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by Larry Levitt

SAN JOSE–The Youth coming into the NHL now has such talent it’s really amazing to see there’s so many teenagers and 21 year olds coming in here in the first year and they are not intimidated by the game or the speed or the pace and they’re actually holding their own. Of course Tomas Hertl of the Sharks is also one them.

The Anaheim Ducks are near the bottom in penalty kills but the Ducks are on the move and are in first and statistics can be skewed a little. When you have a very bad penalty kill and your not doing well and yet your doing great five on five, your playing five on five more than your killing penalties hopefully so there are more full strengths than making it up on the other end.

The Sharks looked pretty good against Phoenix the other day in a shoot out loss 3-2 at SAP arena last Saturday night the way I would explain this game they have moments where they fall asleep and lose their focus and those moments are when good teams capitalize on you and the Coyotes are a very good team this year.

Every team in the west is very well rounded but the team that the Sharks usually have trouble with the Coyotes being one of them is because of the great goaltending of Mike Smith. They took advantage of him in the first game when he was really off his game but when he’s on his game he’s a tough guy to beat. They could have beat him it’s the Sharks own fault they had some loses of focus and allowed some really cheap goals but it is what it is and they’ll take the one point out of it as a gift.

My biggest fear is Buffalo their an NHL team, yes they play in the east and their record is 2-13-1 so they’re really playing poorly on the stat sheet but their actually a pretty good team. They’re a young team they have four young rookies on their team that are doing actually quiet well. The problem is when the Sharks face a team like the Sabers you don’t want to mail a game like that in.

You need to go out there and play your game, the way the Sharks need to look at that game last Tuesday night and say “let’s use this as a real good fine tune to get our focus and get our system in place and get ready for Vancouver Thursday night” but you can not look past Buffalo. You got to play that game and you got to really bear down and if it happens to be a blow out then use your third and fourth lines.

If it’s not a blow out you really need to stay focus because they’re an NHL team and in any game, any team, can win on any given night. The Canucks are no exception but I don’t know if they’re buying into head coach Mike Tortorella’s system and it’s going at the one step that Phil Kessler and and the Sedin twins are one, two and four for forwards time on ice in the NHL. So the Canucks top line is logging a lot of minutes.

Larry Levitt does NHL and ECHL hockey commentary each week for Sportstalk Radio

Bulls and Sharks keep the love going, re-up affiliation

by Kahlil Najar and Phillip Torres

SAN FRANCISCO–

The San Francisco Bulls announced today that their affiliation with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks and the AHL’s Worcester Sharks has been renewed. The Bulls will continue to serve as the Sharks’ exclusive ECHL developmental team.

The Bulls were the new kid at the table last year as they entered their inaugural season in the ECHL and when they announced their affiliation with the Sharks, they instantly became a the new belle of the ball. The Sharks provided seven players to the Bulls, including goaltenders Thomas Heemskerk and Taylor Nelson, defenseman Mikael Tam, and forwards Marek Viedensky, Daniil Tarasov, Yanni Gourde and Tommy Grant.

On the Bulls, Sharks Assistant GM Joe Will said “San Francisco provides a terrific option for us to place players in a situation where they can further develop themselves as hockey players. Bulls Head Coach Pat Curcio and his staff do a great job preparing the players to succeed and Daniil is a perfect example of that. He worked hard in San Francisco and Worcester and earned an NHL contract on the merit of his play.”

“We’re very excited to continue and further grow our partnership with the San Jose Sharks,” said SF Bulls President and Head Coach Pat Curcio. “We can’t thank Doug Wilson, Wayne Thomas, Joe Will and John Tortora enough for their support. Our first season created a mutually beneficial relationship. The Sharks provided us with high-quality players, who helped contribute to our team’s appearance in the playoffs. We are excited about the opportunity to develop Sharks prospects while putting a winning product on the ice. We also believe that our affiliation with the Sharks not only gives us quality prospects, it gives us an instant identity in a very large market, and we are very grateful to them for that.”

“We had an extremely positive relationship with the Bulls last season as a development vehicle for players within our system and we look forward to continuing that agreement,” said Sharks GM Doug Wilson.

This affiliation with the Sharks helps solidify the Bulls home here in San Francisco. The proximity of the Cow Palace to the SAP Center is something that most ECHL and NHL teams do not share and no doubt had an influence in both teams decision to continue this successful partnership. The Bulls had tremendous reach into the community during the season as they had above average attendance to most home games and put their stamp on all facets of media including radio, TV and other out-of-home advertisements.

“It’s important for us as an organization to help grow the game of hockey at all levels in the Bay Area and the Bulls have done a great job putting a quality product on the ice,” said Sharks Chief Operating Officer John Tortora. “The Sharks Bay Area journey began in the San Francisco area and this is another opportunity for us to connect and engage with our many fans and supporters in the North Bay, which is home to more than 15% of our season ticket base.”

The Bulls start their season this year with a preseason match up against the Bakersfield Condors on October 10th at 7:30pm at the historic Cow Palace