Friday, April 30, 2010

Keep Your Heads Up, Coyotes. . .

So the season that was successful, ground-breaking, and franchise record
setting, came to a not-so-happy ending for the 2009-2010 Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday night.

So what.

Woah, now, don't confuse the passive attitude with non-interest or disrespect. It's

Rather I don't want in any way to disrespect the team for all they did this season. To focus on the end and not the journey, in this case, would take away from all they accomplished. (And, man, did they accomplish a lot!)

Look, we'd all be in a much better state of mind if the Yotes powerplay didn't go dry in 5 out of 7 games, if regular season Lee Stempniak didn't forget how to score in the playoffs, and if Shane Doan didn't get so seriously hurt.

But...that's not the way it rolled. Sometimes all good intentions and better teams just don't get you there.

I think the Coyotes played well, and on many nights, as well as they could have. Games 5 and 7 didn't follow that mold. Many people thought they'd go down in 4 or 5 games.

Instead a squad of young, mostly inexperienced players took the two time
consequtive Western Conference champs to 7 games.

Hell, I thought the Coyotes would win in 6 games. Felt very confident in fact. Sometimes the good, and perhaps the better, teams fall.

Just ask Washington.


Anyway, think of the positives of the playoffs.

Shane Doan got back there. True it was only for 2+ games and he was severely injured. But think back to game 1. When he was told to have fun before game 1 he said, "don't worry I will," with his trademark, glorious Doan-ish smile.

Keith Yandle took a big step towards joining the next ranks of breakout defensemen in the league. His game 1 performance was dominant. The only bad news, he won't be a silent weapon much longer. He's too good.

Matthew Lombardi and Martin Hanzal stepped up in the faceoff circle. Vital parts of this team. Hanzal, in fact, had a masterful performance, even in games the Coyotes did not play well. Guy is sometimes a little penalty prone, but he is young and learning.

Ilya Bryzgalov may not have had his best games at all moments but the guy
carried the team as best he could when the once steady, well-disciplined
defense in front of him fell. He will only grow from this. He's too good a goalie to not get the chance to experience more playoffs and improve in big games.

And Petr Prucha, the oft-scratched, rarely counted upon in do-or-die situations in the past (well, at least in New York), had the best night in his young playoff career in Game 3. A key assist on his tempo-setting first shift, a goal that undressed 6-time Norris winner Nick Lidstrom, and a well deserved first star of the game honor. All on a nationally televised game. And when their captain was injured, it was #16 that skated with Lombardi and Woltek Wolski. Think someone has gotten
their confidence back?

Anyway, I think we should focus on that. Not the powerless powerplay, not the
defensive lapses, not the things we can't control. (And that seemingly the team could not control either).

They got a taste now. They will be hungrier next year. Get the nerves out of their system now, and work to fix what they can - like the powerplay. This team will be in good shape. I'm confident.

And the cool thing about it all. They did get there. It may not have been MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, but it was mission accomplished.

A team no one thought would even contend - did. And they did all of their fans proud - the fans that have supported for years, the fans in Phoenix, and the fans from afar. They did us proud.

So bravo to them. And thank you. I don't think we'll ever forget this season in the desert. It was truly something to marvel at and there are no words to describe how happy I was and satisfied I am to have been one of the many taking their journey with them.

Thank you, 2009-2010 Phoenix Coyotes. We'll see you next season.

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