Some quick thoughts from the NHL on TSN panel on Monday:
With less than a minute to play in the second period, Jason Spezza missed his defensive assignment that led to Chris Kreider's eventual game-winning goal in Game 6. That mistake led head coach Paul MacLean to bench Spezza for the first 6:50 of the third period, including a full two-minute powerplay when Rangers' forward Brandon Prust was sent off.
Also of interest was the fact that team captain Daniel Alfredsson also spent the first 4:54 of the third period on the bench. After he took a hit on a later shift, Alfredsson smashed his stick on the bench and stomped on a water bottle. I don't think I've ever seen Alfredsson that agitated or upset.
The frustration of not being on the ice for the power play clearly boiled over. After the game, MacLean said that he would talk to Alfredsson because he feels that frustration is a useless emotion. I'm sure Alfredsson, who said that he should have handled it better, will be highly motivated for Game 7.
Staying the Course
On the ice, the Phoenix Coyotes story is a really remarkable one. You have to hand it to general manger Don Maloney as well as head coach Dave Tippett because they maintained the focus of the club.
While Mike Smith was clearly the story of the series, the Coyotes did have obstacles to overcome. They lost Martin Hanzal to injury for a good part of this series, Lauri Korpikoski is another valuable forward on the defensive side that also missed time. Raffi Torres was suspended for 25 games, which was a huge story, and a huge controversy, yet you couldn't get a ripple of excitement from Tippett.
There's been so much ado about the Coyotes moving or not moving over the last few years, yet they've managed to be a playoff team for the last two seasons, by putting all those distractions aside.
The second round will be interesting for the Coyotes, as they will face the Nashville Predators, who also boast a big goaltender in Pekka Rinne, who is very much like Smith. Add that to the fact that the Predators historically play with the same sort of defensive awareness and conscience that the Coyotes do, makes it an interesting matchup.