The Desert Dog Blog: Coyotes Are Turning Heads
GLENDALE -- With a 2-0 series lead over the Nashville Predators firmly in hand, the Coyotes are officially turning heads – here in Arizona and beyond the state’s borders – as the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll on.
Don't believe me? Search the internet and/or the various social media platforms today and you will quickly discover how many NHL observers - and fans looking for a team to root for in the playoffs - are suddenly taking notice of what this hockey team has accomplished so far in the postseason with six wins in eight games.
The Coyotes will look to take a 3-0 lead vs. the Preds on Wednesday when the series shifts to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Phoenix is 4-1-1 in six games played in the Music City under Head Coach Dave Tippett, including a 2-0-0 record this season.
|The tower at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
• The Coyotes didn’t practice on Monday but they will on Tuesday morning before flying to Nashville later in the day. When they depart, the players, coaches and staff members will undoubtedly get to see a unique message for them hanging from the tower at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (see photo at right).
• For those late arrivals to Game 2 on Sunday wondering why defenseman Rostislav Klesla played less than nine minutes, it’s because he took a puck to the face on his first shift and left the game for treatment. Klesla, who returned later in the game wearing a protective shield around his face, absorbed a similar blow to the face earlier in the playoffs vs. Chicago.
NOTE: Click here to see Klesla tough it out and return to action on Sunday.
• Below are five tidbits worth noting before Game 3:
1. The Coyotes have scored nine goals on Predators goalie Pekka Rinne in two playoff games. That’s the same amount of goals the Detroit Red Wings scored on Rinne in FIVE games during the first round.
2. Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, who entered the season with just three playoff games on his NHL resume, is leading the League with six playoff wins.
3. Center Antoine Vermette, whom the Coyotes quietly acquired from Columbus a few days before the trade deadline, is leading the Western Conference with five playoff goals and co-leading the Western Conference with eight playoff points. His shooting percentage thus far in the playoffs is an eye-popping 38.5 percent.
4. Keith Yandle is leading all NHL defensemen in playoff points with seven and needs just two more points to tie Dave Babych for the franchise record for playoff points in a season by a defenseman. Klesla, by the way, is right behind Yandle with six points.
5. The Coyotes have delivered 310 hits since the Stanley Cup Playoffs began. That’s tops in the NHL. Like Tippett said the other day: "If you're not wearing ice packs after the game, you didn't play hard enough."
|Sen. John McCain at Game 2 on Sunday. Photo by Getty Images.
• FYI, Game 5 of this series with Nashville - if necessary - will be played on Monday, May 7 at Jobing.com Arena. As of today, tickets for that game are still available. Fans interested in purchasing tickets should call 480-563-PUCK (7825) or visit phoenixcoyotes.com/playofftickets.
Game 5 - again, if there is one - will be another WhiteOut. And just so everybody knows, ALL Stanley Cup Playoff games played at Jobing.com Arena will be WhiteOuts, so please, follow Sen. John McCain’s lead and dress in white to support the team if you come. (White hair is optional.)
• I will end this blog with an invitation to all to visit phoenixcoyotes.com throughout the remainder of this series and beyond. Our staff will accompany the team to Nashville on Tuesday for Games 3 and 4 and will provide exclusive daily content as the series unfolds.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Contact Dave Vest at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.