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Celebration will be brief as Coyotes prepare for Nashville

Shane Doan had waited his entire career for this.

The Phoenix Coyotes are heading to the second round of the
Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“It’s something that had been a very long time,” Doan said
Tuesday at Sky Harbor Airport after he and the team
returned from Chicago. “You’re excited, as a player, to
have a chance anytime to play in the playoffs.

“It’s not something that you take lightly and I think as
you get older you appreciate it more.”

Valley fans are appreciating it, too.

Nearly 1,000 or so lined up to wait for the team’s arrival
at Sky Harbor Airport Tuesday, with chants of “Let’s go
Coyotes!” and “We want cup!” ringing out throughout the
afternoon.

“People can be hard on the city from outside in regards to
the fans because that’s kind of sometimes the media
perception from outside the Valley, so when you see this
it just reassures you that it works,” Doan said. “It works
here and it’s awesome that the fans supported us through
everything, and now continue to.”

And, while Tuesday was for celebrating, Doan and the
Coyotes know a tough Nashville team is on the horizon.

“We really were excited about the fact we won, everybody
was,” Doan said. “We know that it’s only one round and
we’ve got to win four more games to get to the next one.”

The Predators won 48 games this year and tallied 104
points – both numbers that surpass what the Coyotes did.

The Coyotes won two of the four games between the teams
this season, but they’re expecting a tough series.

“It’s going to be a huge test for our team,” goalie Mike
Smith said. “Obviously we have to keep improving and
getting better every game.”

That they do, but the important thing, at least right now,
is that there are still games to be played.

“It’s obvious that it’s a relief to get a monkey off your
back and get through the first round,” head coach Dave
Tippett said. “The players [Monday night] were pretty
methodical in their approach and what they had to look
forward to in the coming days, the prep for Nashville, and
I think everybody’s excited about that.”

That they are, and with good reason.