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The Desert Dog Blog: Last Week's Practices Are Key to Winning Streak

Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 5:51 PM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – The beginning of this blog is about practice. Not a game. Practice. How silly is that?

With apologies to Allen Iverson, it’s not silly at all.

The Coyotes had three practices in a row at Jobing.com Arena last week in between games. Since those workouts the team has posted a 3-0-0 record and has outscored opponents 12-5.

Photo by Norn Hall
The consensus around the team is that those three practices – and playing just one game in a span of nine days after playing 26 in 52 days all across North America – may have saved the season.

“We had three pretty tough practices where we pushed pretty hard physically and really challenged each other… and just got back into that ‘Coyotes Hockey’ frame of mind,” forward Taylor Pyatt told me. “It’s helped us.”

The practices began the day after the Coyotes lost to Anaheim, 4-1, in the first game after the All-Star break on Jan. 31.

I remember attending that first practice on Feb. 1 and thinking it was the most intense practice I’d seen in quite a long time. Teammates were competing hard against each other and the body checks were game-like, not practice-like. I recall saying to a colleague: “These guys brought their lunch pails today.”

Head Coach Dave Tippett echoed that sentiment after practice when he described it as very “business-like.” Similar workouts followed on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3.

“We had to refocus (after the loss to Anaheim) and we worked very hard and focused on little details,” center Gilbert Brule told me. “I think that was the biggest thing.”

Forward Mikkel Boedker agreed:

“I think (the three practices) got our minds in the right place, and we’ve shown that on the ice in the last three games,” Boedker said.

The key will be continuing to show it over the last 28 games.

Keith Yandle
• Only a handful of players skated at Wednesday’s optional practice in Scottsdale and defenseman Keith Yandle, who left Tuesday’s game at Dallas in the middle of third period after getting hit in the leg by a shot, was not one of them.

Fear not, Coyotes fans. Tippett told reporters after practice that Yandle was fine and that he would definitely play on Thursday vs. Calgary.

• I spoke to Video Coach Steve Peters today about the challenge he faces tonight because the Calgary Flames, the Coyotes' next opponent on Thursday, are playing at San Jose.

“For a video coach, these nights are the tough ones,” Peters told me. “That game doesn’t start until later because it’s in the Pacific Time zone so it’s going to be a real late night. But we’ll break it down and turn it around quickly, and we’ll get here early in the morning to go over it with all of the coaches because it’s imperative that we see what they do in their most recent game.”

• FYI, the Coyotes vs. the Chicago Blackhawks game on Saturday is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. (Arizona time) instead of the normal 6 p.m. start time. The game likely won’t begin until closer to 7 p.m. because of the pre-game Ring of Honor induction ceremony for Jeremy Roenick, which will start at 6:30 p.m.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Contact Dave Vest at thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.
 
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