Deportes americanos

miércoles, 26 de enero de 2011

‘Unbelievable’ Yandle added to NHL all-star game roster

Snubbed by the selection committee the first time around, Phoenix Coyotes red-hot blue-liner Keith Yandle was added to the NHL’s all-star roster on Tuesday.

He will replace injured Atlanta Thrashers defenceman Tobias Enstrom. The spot that was to be occupied by Edmonton Oilers winger Ales Hemsky will now go to Martin Havlat of the Minnesota Wild.

Oilers head coach Tom Renney said Hemsky has been on the stationary bike and he has run on the treadmill. If he continues to show signs of improvement from his concussion, he should be back in the lineup when the team hosts the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 2.

Yandle, meanwhile, will take his rightful place with the league’s elite defencemen.

“He’s unbelievable,” said Yandle’s teammate Shane Doan, “but we’ve seen it coming and talking about it as a group.

“I would say last year he was probably the best player on the ice 50 per cent of the time. This year, I’d say he’s probably the best player 75 per cent of the time. He is an elite defenceman. I’d put him up with (Mike Green of the Washington Capitals) and (the San Jose Sharks Dan Boyle), those type of players. And he’s such a great guy in our room.

“Everyone loves him.”

The 24-year-old Bostonian had put up seven goals and 33 assists in his first 49 games this season, just two shy of the venerable Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings and rolled into the game against Edmonton with a seven-game point streak.

Yandle said that having been mentored by the likes of veteran blue-liners Ed Jovanovski and Derek Morris has been invaluable. He also credits his breakout campaign to an injection of confidence in his game. That and the fact that he’s playing for Dave Tippett, a coach who stresses defence above all in his system.

“The knock on me earlier, and it still might be, is that I always wanted to get out of my zone and join the rush,” Yandle said. “Under Tip, you have to play defence first.”

Yandle spent the bulk of last season on the third pairing, but with injuries to the back end this season, he scooped up more ice time in even-strength situations and on special teams.

“We’ve had no choice but to put him out against the top lines and he’s performed very well,” said Tippett. “It’s not just the points, it’s his all-around game that has really come to the forefront. He’s got a very bright future ahead of him.”

Oilers to play spoiler role

A playoff berth might be out of reach for the Oilers, but Renney still has objectives for his charges. Following the four-day all-star break, the Oilers will have 33 games remaining — time enough, said Renney, to lay a better foundation.

“We can really determine a lot of things right now,” Renney said. “For ourselves, first and foremost, it’s about developing a reputation, an identity, a real deep commitment to what we want to be, not just right now but long term,” he said.

“Beyond that, these teams we’re playing desperately need points. We can really affect the Western Conference down the stretch with how we play and with the results that we are able to garner.”

Tape it up and put me in

In one of the practice sessions he was running earlier this week, Renney jammed his ring finger with enough force that he tore the tendon from the bone.

“I wish I could tell you what happened. I can’t remember if it hit the top of the board or I pushed a player (in a drill),” he said. “I thought I had dislocated my finger.”

Renney won’t require surgery, instead scar tissue will form and fuse the tendon.

Two doesn’t go into three

There was a time when Doan wondered if he’d ever shake the reputation of being that guy who doesn’t have an NHL hat trick. Now the Coyotes captain figures he might as well as embrace the idea.

“I’ve decided if there is a record to have, that the most two-goal games without a hat trick isn’t a bad one. There’s other records you might not want,” he said.

Doan is tied with Larry Murphy for most goals in a career without notching a hat trick. Before Tuesday’s game, he had 287 goals in 1,086 NHL games.

He has 37 two-goal games to his credit.

“You almost start to smile when you get two, and there’s a little bit of time left,” he said. “The fans here even get pretty excited.”

No need for crowd control

Despite holding down a spot in the playoff race, despite the bargains — like the $25 package that includes a seat in the upper deck, a beer and a T-shirt — the Coyotes still aren’t a big draw in the desert.

“You want atmosphere,” said Coyotes winger Paul Bissonnette. “But for our last game against L.A., we had a great crowd. And it is nice when we play Canadian cities or when we play Original Six teams. We get a lot of people for Chicago, for instance. But last week, we had maybe 5,000 people here. There were maybe 1,000 in the building for the warm-up.

“It’s a little depressing to see. If they had built the rink in Scottsdale, maybe we’d be having a different talk right now, so yeah, it’s frustrating.”

“It’s tough,” said Yandle, “especially when you go to a game in Edmonton or Montreal and it’s full for the warm-up. But our fans are coming. Since I’ve been here, the crowds have gotten a lot better.”

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