DETROIT - APRIL 25: Taylor Pyatt #14 of the Phoenix Coyotes tries to get around Jonathan Ericsson #52 of the Detroit Red Wings during Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 25, 2010 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. Phoenix won the game 5-2 to tie the series 3-3. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
For those in the desert, facing the prospect of staving off elimination came early today. Some might think that a game this early would hamper the Phoenix Coyotes, possibly being scheduled a little too early in the afternoon. This was one of many concerns, as fears during the game thread manifested themelves while the game progressed. When facing the uncertainty of the clock possibly striking midnight on their so-called 'Cinderella Ride" ,the Coyotes showed everyone what makes this team so special, during prime time nonetheless. Early games, away game in Detroit, Mike Emerick being the biggest Red Wing fan with a microphone, whatever. It made no difference. Pay attention, kids. Work ethic goes a long way in life.
The first period started out scary, as Detroit picked up where they left off, dominating time of posession, the shot clock, and the overall flow of the game. Also noticeable was Detroit's increased physical presence, a category they seemed to have the advantage on for the majority of the game. As for the adage of "being more lucky than good", it didn't hurt that the Coyotes were a little of both today. While some may have complained about the quality of the officiating, we will not do that here. It is what it is, and if you're not good enough to deal with that type of adversity, the refs aren't going to put the biscuit in the basket for you anyways. That being said, Lauri Korpokoski took full advantage of an errant clearing attempt just over 4 minutes into the first period, bearing straight down on Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard and beating him through his proverbial wickets. It wasn't the prettiest goal. But when you're already shorthanded, and being physically pushed around as if you're facing the schoolyard bullies, even the ugly ones seem to have some sort of sheen to them. Score after 1: Coyotes 1, Detroit 0.
As the second period started, Detroit seemed to come out even more relentless. Wave after wave of red jerseys were accentuating their defensive plays by making sure their bodies were firmly planted on a Phoenix jersey. So much so, that this may have been what turned the tide for Phoenix. If you've ever watched a Coyotes game, you know about the collective groan that is elicited when the words 'Coyotes' and 'Power Play' are joined in the same breath. Not the case today, as Mathieu Schneider rejoined the lineup and did just what the Coyotes wanted him to do. The Power Play was not to be denied today, scoring 3 goals while on the man advantage. the Coyotes battled back from Brad Stuart's comeback goal, early in the second. Using Detroit's over-pursuit and overzealous penalties, the Coyotes rallied themselves into the locker room with a 4-1 lead. Radim Vrbata and Wojtek Wolski padded the lead by showing that this Phoenix team is not afraid to crash the net, an asset that has proven beneficial against a Detroit defense that seems to prefer chasing their opponenets into the corners and behind their own net.
During the broadcast, it was mentioned that Taylor Pyatt was standing on the bench, yelling to his teammates that one more goal would be the nail in the coffin....At least, for today. Fittingly, Pyatt scored a power play goal on his very next shift with a gorgeous deflection from a screened point shot. By the time the Red Wings tallied their second goal of the game, it was already too late. Ilya Bryzgalov showed again why he is a worthy Vezina candidate, if not Hart trophy candidate, stopping a plethora of quality chances regularly throughout the game. And although the chippiness set in towards the end of the game, the Coyotes are coming home with their work not finished, 5-2 victory in hand.
Game 7 is Tuesday. It doesn't get any bigger than this for Phoenix fans. The Coyotes showed their resolve, their grit, and their heart. And Tuesday is the Coyotes chance to show whether they will sink or swim, in what figures to be the most insane environment at a Coyotes game in years. So as satisfying as today's game may be for the Coyotes and their fans, everyone in the desert seems to understand that this ride hasn't ended yet. And if Detroit wants a fight, they're making a grave mistake by thinking the Phoenix Coyotes will go silently into the night.
Make no mistake, Tuesday at Jobing.com Arena will be beyond electric. Hell, it may be downright rowdy. But if you've ever wanted to see what it's like to scream at the top of your lungs for 3-4 hours straight, this is the time to do it. The Coyotes don't want their season to end, and Judgement Day is upon us. The Coyotes have shown they can compete with anyone, and everyone. I'd be surprised if an injured Shane Doan sits this one out. He'd show up with his limbs dangling from his carcass, as Coyotes fans know. The physical presence will be reassessed. So now is the time to ask.... Are YOU ready? The Coyotes sure look like they are. When the chips are down, sometimes it's best to just let it all hang out. So Coyotes fans, after years of punishment, now is your time to shine. Shine on, babies.. Shine on.