Bring on the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs.
You read that right. I want to play Detroit in the playoffs again, particularly in the first round. I can't wait to see the Phoenix Coyotes take the ice at the Joe and watch the Job fill up with those bright red shirts.
A fellow journalist, Craig Morgan of Fox Sports Arizona, recently made a comment that the NHL should institute a rule that says a team cannot play the same team in the first round of the playoffs three years running. He nicknamed it the "Coyote Clause."
Whether or not this was meant as a moment of levity, it got me thinking. With the Coyotes future still plagued with relocation rumors - don't get me started -, there is a very real possibility that we could bear witness to the death of professional ice hockey in the desert at the end of this season. If that happens, what better way for a team with a Red Wings complex to go out - by finally winning their first playoff series as a franchise and beating the team who humiliated them last season with a four-game sweep.
The scenario is more real than you think. As of now, the Wings lead the entire Western Conference in points, meaning they'll take on the eighth-spot team. Assuming a little movement, the Wings could go down as far as number three, but a top-two finish is more likely. The Coyotes, should they make the playoffs, are likely going to be in the bottom two teams. It may seem like bad luck, but I call it fate.
Do I think the Coyotes are a superior team to the Red Wings? Hardly. Just reading the line-up itself is a who's who of goal scorers, top defensemen and one of the league's best goaltenders. A franchise steeped in NHL history, having won plenty of Stanley Cups and a member of the Original Six against a team that apparently no one wants, generally consists of role-players and seven first round playoff series losses? A perfect scenario for the Coyotes.
The entirety of sports thrives on the rare win, the big moment and David dropping Goliath. That's what keeps us watching, me writing and fans in the seats. Everyone hopes the game they're at becomes the game that everyone wishes they were at. When the Coyotes clinch the series against the Red Wings in Game 6 of the first round of the playoffs, that will become the game to say you were at if you are a Coyotes fan. Just once, I want to see a Wings fan walking slowly out of Jobing.com Arena, heads held low while muttering, "There's always next year."
While the playoff matchups are far from decided - a mere 14 points separate first and eighth place in the Western Conference -, if the season ended today, the Coyotes would take on the Red Wings in Detroit in a few days' time. For me, that matchup can't come soon enough. It may be crazy, it's likely far too hopeful, but, damn it, as a Coyotes fan who has been tossed around through relocation rumors, humiliating defeats and an arena that's too far from home, I want my team to have their moment. I want the curse to be broken against the team that always seems to have our number. I want to see my team make a real playoff run by dropping one of the giants.
We'll see you in April, Detroit. Be ready, because we are.