Might “the buzz” be back?
You know? The same buzz that used to be at America West Arena most nights when the Coyotes played, the buzz that used to emanate the Valley during the playoffs, the same buzz that helped people fall in love with this organization when it first arrived in Phoenix.
Judging by the Coyotes’ 5-4 shootout victory Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena, the answer could very well be “yes.”
Its wins like these (dramatic come-front-behind), against opponents like these (Chicago), in front of crowds like these (a standing-room only crowd of 17,534) that can change minds, hearts and attitudes in a hurry.
And while attendance and media attention has been on an upswing for weeks now, this was a statement game. These are the games that will turn heads outside of Phoenix and turn the apathetic into curious but supportive onlookers.
The victory certainly turned the heads of the visiting team.
“They deserved to win tonight, for sure,” said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith after the game. “They played a great team game from start to finish.”
This team is no longer flying under the radar like they did during the first few months of the season. Opponents have taken note of the quick turnaround and are keeping their fingers crossed that they don’t have to play this team in the playoffs.
And while this team made adjustments at the trade deadline for the purposes of a playoff run; they’re most dangerous weapon might not be their goaltending, or their defense, or Lee Stempniak (and all those are really good weapons). It might be their mindset.
Despite the increase of respect, both local and non-local, the team still plays with a chip on their shoulder. It’s almost like they want the pundits to call them a “pretender” or say “this team isn’t really that good,” just so they can show them.
And when you have a team that plays for each other, seems even hungrier for more success with every passing game and has a goaltender with the ability to carry the whole team on his back- there’s no telling how far they will go.
You just hope this team isn’t peaking in March because it would sure be nice for the reclaimed buzz to hang around the Valley for more then just a couple weeks.
Anthony’s three stars
1. Lee Stempniak (two goals)
2. Radim Vrbata (shootout-winning goal)
3. Adrian Aucoin (game-tying goal)
Up next: The Coyotes head back out on the road to take on the Dallas Stars. Puck drops at 4:00 p.m. AZ time Sunday.