Wayne Gretzky has had no meaningful hockey reason to be back in New York since 1999, but his return to the East coast has been a smashing success so far. Gretzky’s Coyotes have won their first two games of their New York junket, a Saturday afternoon victory over the New Jersey Devils and a Sunday 5-1 rout of the struggling New York Rangers. Combined with the four goals scored on Saturday, the coyotes have put nine goals in a New York area net, while only surrendering two.
Sunday they took advantage of a flu stricken team capitalizing on Ranger turnovers and poor defensive play.
A lot of the Coyotes sudden success can be attributed to Ilya Bryzgalov, claimed off of waivers from the Anaheim Ducks, since his arrival with Phoenix they have seemingly developed a much steadier work ethic. Confident that the back end is secure, they are taking a few more offensive chances and finding rewards come with the increase in shots taken.
For the Rangers it’s been a string of five losses in the last six games that have seen them tumble down the standings, losses that seem to stem from the defense as they have given up 24 goals in those six games.
The Coyotes missed out on a New York Area sweep, but dropping a game Thursday night 3-2 to the New York Islanders, though they battled hard and made an impressive effort to try and tie that one late in the third.
From the Big Apple they move on to Philadelphia and a match up with the Flyers on Tuesday night, while Gretzky may have enjoyed his homecoming of sorts in New York, it's going to be all work on Tuesday, the Flyers anxious to break the 500 mark in their last ten games will no doubt be a their physical best against the Coyotes.