As Margaret Thatcher said to George H.W. Bush prior to the start of the first Gulf War (1991 for you kids out there), “Now Is Not The Time To Go Wobbly.” It means just because it will be difficult and hard, do not lose site of what your goal is and how you will achieve victory. Kind of like this season. Losing the first game of the season to San Jose. Losing players to injuries from pucks to the face; suspensions; taking a leave for personal/family reasons, and the toll playing high level Western Conference hockey will take on your mind and body. You pulled it together in late January and saved the season with a 11-0-1 run for a perfect February. Combine it with the wins in convincing fashion over the last two weeks of the season.
The Kings have a 2 game lead over the Coyotes and the next two games are in LA does not give me pause for concern. First of all, it is LA. The crowd will be so tired of hearing about Kobe and Blake Griffin, they will not have the energy to show up on time. I’ll salute the brave Coyote fan who throws a Desert Dog jersey over his statue outside the Staples Center.
Dave Tippett and the coaches have always come out with a game plan and a prepared team. Sean Burke will get back into the head of Mike Smith and calm him down. Shane Doan will be a wrecking ball. Dustin Brown should start taking Aleve now to get a head start on the pain he will feel. Adrian Aucoin should be back in the lineup to get some veteran presence on the blue line and remove bodies from the crease and save Smith from practicing his axe work. Here is why I am optomistic:
- The Coyotes play better on the road. Too much home cooking is hard on the body. School is almost over for your children, you have family and friends in to see the games. The kids have friends over for swimming parties. Get on the road and eliminate the distractions. Get your mind focused.
- How much better could the Kings play? They have been at full strength and full capacitythe past two games. The first game was a 3-2 close game until the empty netter. The second game the Coyotes played one good period until the refs took over.
- The Coyotes will be fired up for game 3. It is easier to get emotional and come out strong in a situation like this than it will be for LA to stay even keeled and have the same game plan.
- The Kings know the Coyotes are going to change things up. Do they stick with the same game plan or do they anticipate what the Coyotes will do?
- Losing Hanzal for a game means the lines will get changed again. Pyatt was on fire last game and he deserves to play with the prime line and use his big body to create havoc.
- You have seen the best LA can throw at you and you now have two games on tape to study and prepare a game plan. Do you think Tippett has slept? No, he keeps popping NoDoz and chases them with 5 hour Energy.
- I checked the Conference Finals scores the past few years. Don’t recall 4-0 stompings. Do not expect one this year.
The Coyotes are a team that has faced adversity for far too many years. There is light at the end of the tunnel in Greg Jamison owning the team, Dave Tippett and the coaching staff, the media finally realizing there is a hockey team in Glendale, and most importantly, for the fans. The fans have been through so much since the team moved here. Everything is in its proper places. The stage is set. Just control the puck and knock Dustin Brown around.
We Believe In The Coyotes. This Is Our Time. This Is Our Year.