Arizona Coyotes Start Slow, Seal Fate Early vs Vegas Golden Knights

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Amazingly, the Arizona Coyotes were unprepared to face the explosive Vegas Golden Knights in the first of a critical two-game set.

For many Coyotes fans, there’s historically been an overriding feeling of dread when their heroes are about to face one of the top teams in the league. It’s a learned behavior burned into their collective psyches by virtue of repeatedly witnessing many years of dismal hockey and disappointing results, ad infinitum. Yet hope springs eternal and, because we’re evidently gluttons for punishment, Yotes fans everywhere keep coming back for more.

No one knew what to expect at the beginning of the Arizona Coyotes‘ (19-17-5 43 pts) first game of two against the Vegas Golden Knights (26-11-2 54 pts) when they took the ice on Friday night. Would the Yotes come out with confidence, defending their house and forechecking in the “O” zone, and therefore creating scoring chances, or would they be more cautious (intimidated?) against the bigger, faster VGK and let them dictate the pace? The answer was behind door #2.

It didn’t take long to realize that the Coyotes were again woefully unprepared to battle the mighty Golden Knights on this night.

That was disappointing and worrisome in itself, and forces me to ask a question: Can someone please tell me how an entire professional hockey team fighting for a playoff spot in the best league in the world can NOT be prepared? Even if your team is talent-barren and the odds are against you versus a particular opponent, a professional player should be able to prepare himself for an important game and muster some pride, right?

One would think that some mental preparation like visualizing positive outcomes prior to the game would be instrumental to success, and making emotional and physical investments in the game would be top priorities. Folks, I just don’t get it.

While the Coyotes debacle was unfolding, the prideful St. Louis Blues (18-16-6 42 pts) were in full playoff mode against the Minnesota Wild (24-13-2 50 pts) because they knew full well that their season was going to be over soon if they didn’t fire themselves up. They beat the Wild 9 to 1 at home and have won two in a row.

We all know that the Arizona Coyotes don’t have nearly the talent nor the history that the Blues do, but are they completely bereft of the internal desire and self motivation to compete that the Blues and the Vegas Golden Knights showed last night?

Throughout this season we’ve listened to the familiar mantra of “one thing about this Coyotes team, they never quit.” Well, that’s all well and good, but do they have the ability to “never quit” right from the beginning of a game with pride and passion and act like they care? Let’s go Coyotes!