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THE DESERT DOG BLOG: COMBINE, PLAYOFFS AND HOCKEY MOVIES

Thursday, 05.27.2010 / 2:18 PM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney and members of his staff are in Toronto this week for the NHL Scouting Combine.

Photo by Getty Images
The league invited 100 of the top players from North America and Europe who are eligible for next month’s NHL Entry Draft to the event so the 30 teams could observe how they perform vigorous physical and psychological tests. Interviews with players also are conducted as the teams put the finishing touches on their draft wish lists. I’m told the Coyotes are interviewing 65 of the 100 players this week.

The 2010 NHL Entry Draft will be held June 25-26 in Los Angeles. As of today, the Coyotes have two picks in the first round – No. 13 (via a trade with Calgary in 2009) and No. 25. Check back to phoenixcoyotes.com as the draft draws closer for more information on the key players and for interviews with Maloney and members of the team’s scouting staff.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes signed Oliver Ekman-Larsson, their top pick from last year’s draft and the sixth overall selection, to an entry-level contract this week.

Photo by Getty Images
Ekman-Larsson recently won a bronze medal playing for Sweden at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Championship in Germany. Playing with and against elite players on such a grand stage undoubtedly served the 18-year-old defenseman well.

Maloney said he expects Ekman-Larsson to make a strong run at a roster spot at training camp. If he doesn’t make the roster, it’s possible Ekman-Larsson would return to Sweden for the 2010-11 season.

• Click here to see Ekman-Larsson’s final stats from the IIHF World Championship. (Click SWE)

• Click here to see Keith Yandle’s final stats from the IIHF World Championship. (Click USA)

• Click here to see Lauri Korpikoski’s final stats from the IIHF World Championship. (Click FIN)


Patrick Sharp
The Stanley Cup Final begins Saturday and, frankly, I’m expecting a lopsided series. My prediction: Chicago will win the best-of-seven set with Philadelphia in five games. Having said that, I’m still really looking forward to watching this series. Both cities are great hockey cities and the atmosphere inside both arenas will be electric.

Keep an eye on Blackhawks winger-turned-center Partick Sharp. My gut is telling me he’s going to have a huge series against the Flyers, the team that drafted him in 2001 and then traded him to Chicago in 2005.

Sharp quietly averaged a point per game in the first three rounds of the playoffs and appears poised to thrive in this series as teammates Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa receive all the attention from the media and the Flyers.

(Click here to watch a fun video of Sharp and his dog Shooter I found on YouTube.)

• The NHL will be presenting its inaugural General Manager of the Year award during the Stanley Cup Final, most likely when the series is set in Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4. Maloney is one of three finalists for the award and, in my opinion, should win hands down.

• Coyotes TV Play-By-Play Announcer Dave Strader will be calling the Stanley Cup Final for NHL International again this season. Check back to phoenixcoyotes.com for a Tell-Us-Strader blog before the series begins.


I just realized Game 1 is not until Saturday at 5 p.m. That’s a long wait for my next hockey fix so I’m probably going to have to dust off one of my hockey movies - other than Slap Shot which I've temporarily retired since Paul Newman passed away - to get me through the down time over the holiday weekend. If you need to do the same, I recommend watching the following:

Miracle: This is the story of the 1980 U.S. hockey team’s run to the Olympic gold medal. It’s predictably corny in some spots – how can in not be given what happened and that it’s a Disney flick? - but I really admire Kurt Russell’s portrayal of the late Herb Brooks, especially his spot-on monologue about “Dream Teams” at the end of the movie. Spoiler Alert: The U.S. beats Russia. Ha!

Mystery, Alaska: After accepting a challenge to play an exhibition game against the New York Rangers, a small, quirky community in Alaska must put petty differences aside and pull together. This movie has grown on me over the years. I particularly enjoy the way the opening sequence was filmed, Mike Myers’ portrayal of a Don Cherry-like announcer, and, of course, the game between the townies and the Rangers.

Youngblood: Before Rob Lowe became a middle-aged comedic actor he was THE teen heartthrob of the 1980s. In this movie, which I’ve discovered many people have never even heard of, Lowe plays a slick, pretty boy hockey player who has to embrace the brutal aspects of the sport to take the next step in his career. He also gets involved with the coach’s daughter and befriends the late Patrick Swayze, which I’m pretty sure happens to every lead character in every teen movie made in the ‘80s. It's cheesy, but good cheesy.

Enjoy.

Reach Dave Vest at thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com
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