A few days ago, I passed along reports that the Phoenix Coyotes only managed to sell about 1,800 season tickets for next season, so far. That number seemed ridiculously low – even for a team with as many problems as the Yotes – and the team refutes that number. Here’s more from the Phoenix Business Journal.
“The report is incorrect – the number is much higher. It’s also worth noting that renewal rates are higher than they’ve been in three years and new season ticket sales have already topped last year and are on pace to be better than the past few years as well,” said Coyotes spokesman Rob Crean.
Crean wouldn’t say how many season tickets the Coyotes have sold.
“We don’t release that information, but like I said it is significantly higher,” Crean said.
The Coyotes ranked last in attendance last season in the NHL averaging just under 12,000 fans at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, according to ESPN. The arena seats 17,100 for hockey. The Coyotes did see an attendance boost towards the end of the season and their first playoff appearance since 2002.
Who knows what counts for “significantly higher.” A thousand more? Three thousand more? Maybe 2,500 people signed up for season ticket deals?
Regardless, that 1,800 number did sound a little low.
Either way, the Coyotes’ sales will likely live and die with the team’s success. Sure, just about any sports team’s ticket sales (even Canadian ones) swell in size thanks to so-called “bandwagon fans,” but that holds especially true with NHL squads in “non-traditional” markets such as Phoenix. You can bet the league is rooting for Dave Tippett, Ilya Bryzgalov and the rest of the Coyotes to make good on their breakthrough 2009-10 campaign next season. Especially if the team’s protracted sale drags on into the 10-11 season, which seems like a growing possibility.
What a start.
This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.
This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.
What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:
This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.
There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.
If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.
— Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.
— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.
— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.
— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.
— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.
Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.
You can see that incident below:
Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.
Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.
This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.
In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.
Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints
For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.
Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.
In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:
After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.
Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.
Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: