“I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!”
That’s a line from the Christmas movie, Elf....if you’ve been living under a rock and didn’t recognize it. I tweeted it last night in an effort to describe just how happy I am that hockey is back. So many of my followers re-tweeted it that I realized I wasn’t the only one feeling like a kid at Christmas, waiting out that last night of hockey eve. Well, today we unwrapped our presents and we finally got to see what we’ve been waiting for all these months.
Now you might say that the present we unwrapped, a Coyotes loss, to a couple of card carrying AARP members, was not quite the present we wanted. True, as one of my followers pointed out, a loss in a shortened season cannot be a regular occurrence. But I don’t think losing will be a regular occurrence for this particular Coyotes team. Every single ingredient is there for a winning season.
First, we have a tremendous goalie in Mike Smith. He needs to quickly shake off any mental issues and get his head into the mid season swagger that he showed us last year. I saw a touch of nerves tonight but I have faith that he’ll adjust, as he did last season, so that he can hit his stride as soon as possible.
Second, we have no weak links. How did we get to the playoffs last year?
Did we have a sniper? Nooooo, we did not.
Did we have the best defense in the league? Frankly, Our D looked better than it actually was due to the talent of Smith. And our PP straight up sucked but we managed to get to the playoffs without it. So, what did we have? How did we make it so far?
What we did have was a contribution from every member on every line. I saw that again tonight in this team-even more so than last season. When no man is bigger than the team, you can accomplish great things. Look at who leads us; Saint Doan, the patron saint of hard work. If everyone on this team can follow his example, if he can inspire and require them to require more of themselves, they will all contribute. Now, I gotta be honest…I was originally worried about losing Whitney, our lead point getter. But clearly he wasn’t the whole team and he wasn’t Vrbata’s only feed-otherwise Vrby wouldn’t have been able to score twice tonight.
Sure there were little mistakes in this game; but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. Heck, I even did a 180 on D-Mo. He brought the pain, he took every shot he could, he was lighter and quicker than he’s been in ages. Hanzal had a bad turnover but he also brought big presence. And I saw lots of speed and stamina in a shortened season that will reward those who have it. From first line to fourth, if everyone can feel empowered to chip in, we will have a successful season.
I should add one caveat here; I am an optimist. There’s a reason I became a professional NFL cheerleader-‘cause I just never give up. In hockey, minutes can wind down on a clock so I look forward to the next period. The period can end so I just look to the next game. Near the end of this game tonight, our boys were still at it. No one giving up or giving in….Still crashing the net…still looking for that moment. This is who we are. It doesn’t come easily. We’ve persevered without an owner. Our fans are mocked for their loyalty. Our team is dismissed by the mainstream sports pundits. But none of that matters really. What matters are heart, talent and character. And we have that in spades. It wasn’t over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor* and it’s not over when you’re one game down.
Bring the noise tomorrow at the home opener.
The Coyotes will bring the grit.