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Off the Ice: Big win for Winnipeg, small loss for Coyotes

I guess you could say I’m looking at the silver lining of
a perceived storm cloud.

When the final horn sounded Thursday night, Phoenix
Coyotes captain Shane Doan hung his head much in the same
style as when the Coyotes lost in Game 4 of the playoffs
last year against the Detroit Red Wings. Doan wanted to
win both of those games. Badly.

The Winnipeg Jets got what they wanted Thursday. They beat
the team that once left the city hockey-less for years.
After an asinine ownership ordeal, it looked like the true
Jets would return home after last season. Thankfully for
Phoenix hockey fans, that deal was thwarted and the
interested ownership purchased the Thrashers – formerly of
Atlanta and now of Winnipeg – to take back to Canada. A
victory for Peggers, but the move still left a bitter
taste in their mouths as they did not get the true Jets
back. The Jets wanted to win last night. Badly.

Unfortunately, there had to be a loser and it was the
Coyotes. They didn’t come off the line quickly and looked
nervous when playing in front of a crowd comparable to
those in Detroit, in volume if not in size. The Jets
squeaked by on a goal that came from a home team bounce
and also benefitted from a few pucks that inexplicably
skipped at 90 degree angles at times, but that’s all in
the past now.

I’m fine with the loss. The Coyotes proved that they can
beat-up the Jets during their home opener in October, when
they dropped the Peg 4-2. When it comes down to it, the
loss doesn’t mean much to the Coyotes and the win meant
volumes to Winnipeg. It made for a good story, albeit with
ugly hockey at times. While fans on both sides wanted to
win, I would rather see the Coyotes drop a meaningless
game to Winnipeg and bookend the loss with wins in Chicago
on Wednesday and at home on Saturday.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love for the Coyotes to blow
out every team they play and hoist Lord Stanley’s cup
undefeated — what sports fan wouldn’t? But being
realistic, there will be losses – bad and good – and the
Coyotes took a good one on Wednesday. They were able to
finally set their spacing on the power play, though their
passing still needs work. They were able to introduce
former holdout Kyle Turris, though his neutral ice game
clearly was lacking. They were able to leave the game with
no key injuries, though a ding to the confidence is never
fun.

While I think steps could have been taken to garner a win,
such as actually letting enforcer Paul Bissonnette play,
the Coyotes have set themselves up for a huge clash on
Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers and former goalie
Ilya Bryzgalov, who snatched two points from them in the
dying seconds of a game just a few weeks ago.

While it sucked seeing the ever-positive Doan hang his
head a bit on Wednesday, I can’t wait to see him beaming
as he shakes Bryz’s hand after beating him in Phoenix. A
loss is never easy to accept, but sometimes good to take.
With the Coyotes bounce-back record this season at 8-1-1,
I can’t help but think good things are going to happen
Saturday.

Nice win, Winnipeg. You got what you wanted and
undoubtedly will continue to chirp Phoenix fans during
every coffee break. But if the Coyotes end the week with
wins against two of the top teams in the NHL, they will
have the last laugh. And I’m OK with that.