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THE DESERT DOG BLOG: CHECKING IN WITH DON MALONEY

Monday, 02.16.2009 / 5:49 PM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
Information, observations and anecdotes about the Coyotes
as told by Dave Vest, the team's V.P. of News Content

I had a chance to speak with General Manager Don Maloney on Monday a few hours before the Coyotes hosted the Edmonton Oilers. As always, he spoke candidly on a number of topics. Below are the highlights of our chat:

Q: What are your thoughts on the team going 1-8-0 in its first nine games after the NHL All-Star break?

A: “Well, like everybody else, I’m disappointed in the way we’ve played since we’ve come back. We’ve had some injuries that we’ve had a hard time overcoming, and when our goaltending is good, our offense disappears, and when our offense is good, our goaltending isn’t as good as we need it to be. The encouraging thing for me is that tonight we’re 100 percent healthy. Martin Hanzal and Kurt Sauer might not be in tip-top shape, but now we can get back and start playing again.”


Q:
Which injury do you think had the biggest impact on the team – Kurt Sauer’s, Peter Mueller’s or Martin Hanzal’s?

A: “I think all of them have combined to have a big impact. Kurt Sauer is such a stable influence on the blue line, and his calming presence is something we’ve really missed. Then, on the other hand, you look at Peter Mueller and we’ve really missed his skill level on the power play. And then Marty, he’s such a big presence in the middle. So, again, I’d say all of them because we’re a team that can’t afford many injuries to key players. We just have a hard time adapting when we’re missing key guys. But now we're back and, touch wood, if we stay healthy for a while, I fully expect us to inch ourselves back into the playoff race. There’s so much hockey left to play and nobody is out of this race. We just have to stop the bleeding and we have to find a way to win at home again. I like our schedule and I think we’re in great position. We just have to get back to basics, and that means fewer giveaways, better defense, better specialty teams. That’s the key.”

Q: Why was Kyle Turris sent to the American Hockey League?

A: “Well, I watched Viktor Tikhonov when he was in San Antonio on a conditioning stint and I noticed how confident and how comfortable he was there. He handled the puck well and scored some goals and did all the things we think he’ll do here once he fills out physically. That was one of the reasons we sent Kyle there. Another reason was the (lack of) minutes Kyle was getting. The last 30 (NHL) games are so demanding physically and he was training away from his game so we made the determination to put him down there for a while so he could start to feel the puck again and hopefully have a good experience, and you can see what is happening. He scored two more goals today. That’s where he should be right now, playing and playing a lot. Here, because we are in such a live-or-die situation, we just can’t afford to experiment anymore. We have to go with the people we have. But there is nothing about Kyle’s game that we dislike at all. Absolutely nothing. His only drawback is his physical maturity right now. And the last portion of the season, you have to be physically ready because it’s a grind. Right now, we just feel that is a better place for him.”

Q: What is the team’s mind-set as the NHL trade deadline approaches?

A: “We still have long-term goals that we are committed to and we’re not in a position to add a high-end pending free agent. Those acquisitions cost high draft picks and high prospects, and that’s not something we’re giving up. But I firmly believe we’ll get back into this playoff race. I think this race will come down to the last week of the season. In a way, I’m glad we’re struggling now because we’ll come out of it. Last year we struggled in March and we couldn’t come out of it. This year we’re struggling now and I fully expect us to come back and get on a positive streak.”

Thanks for reading.

Dave
thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com


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