With 45 days to go until the puck (hopefully) drops on the preseason, we will continue our optimistic march into the future with a remembrance of one of the most triumphant moments in franchise history: the return of the Whiteout. 45 becomes 4-5 as the 4th seeded Phoenix Coyotes squared off against the 5th seeded Detroit Red Wings in the 2010 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals. Okay, it's a bit of a stretch, but this series captured the hearts of long suffering Coyotes fans and deserves mentioning in our countdown.
According to preseason experts, this series wasn't supposed to happen. Detroit was too good of a team to be a 5th seed, and probably wouldn't have been were it not for a rash of injuries in the first half of the regular season that forced the Wings to play catch up. By contrast, Phoenix was expected to go out with a whimper in what many believed would be the team's penultimate season in the desert. 50 wins and 107 points later, the Coyotes proved they wouldn't go down without a fight.
The series has been dissected at length by folks across the blogosphere and in TV studios across North America, so let's take a brief look at the pivotal moments of the series:
Game 1 was everything a fan could hope for. An electrifying crowd dazzlingly draped out in white kept the building rocking all night. The Coyotes power play also became uncharacteristically effective (a trend that continued all series long), scoring all three goals in a 3-2 nail-biter.
Game 2: Doanface.
Game 3: Jimmy Howard's back became the enemy of Coyotes fans everywhere as Shane Doan leapt over it to avoid substantial injury, and ended up taking a substantial injury upon landing. We won the game, but may have lost the series.
Game 4: The only shutout of the series, and the last time the home team won a game. If you know NHL playoff structure, that doesn't bode well for Phoenix.
Game 7: The Red Wings cemented their series win with a 6-1 pounding of Ilya "Playoff Sieve" (trademark pending) Bryzgalov in front of the Coyotes crowd. This was a tough game to stomach, because the loss didn't just mean the end of the season, but also possibly the end of professional hockey in the Valley. I still clearly remember the reverberating chant of "LET'S GO COY-OTES!!!" as the horn sounded at the end of the 3rd period.
Thankfully for all of us, the book on the Phoenix Coyotes is still being written. As we turn the page on the most successful season in franchise history, we should remember the series that began this wonderfully enthralling and nerve-wracking journey.