Saturday was a coulda woulda shoulda day of major proportions in the cities of Phoenix and Glendale. It could have been a very cool day.
Instead, it was a disaster.
Three of our Valley's four major sports franchises were in action, with two of the teams--the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Coyotes--engaged in big-time games that would have great bearing on the rest of their seasons.
All of them lost, and the Yotes loss to Chicago most especially was up there in the brutal department.
It was all set to be the most glorious moment in the hockey franchise's not-so-terrific history here in the Valley--no Stanley Cup playoff series wins since moving here from Winnipeg after the 1987 season.
The Coyotes are the ultimate blue-collar bunch, sans a real owner (the league itself "owns" the team), a big budget, or a herd of superstars.
But here they were, on the cusp of eliminating the Blackhawks in the fifth game of a series that has been almost absurdly close--overtime goals had decided the first four.
And here the Yotes were, ahead 1-0 with less than ten minutes left, and it felt like the most unsafe lead in the world, being that the team has been ahead late in every one of the games.
Sure enough, the Hawks' Nick Leddy shot the puck past the excellent Mike Smith to tie the game, and just three minutes into overtime, Chicago's Jonathan Toews nailed the game-winner.
The fifth OT game in a row made this quarterfinal series historical, the first time that has happened since 1951--which, officially, is a long time ago.
Those in attendance on Saturday night would have preferred a W to that kind of history.
The white-clad Phoenix crowd, which had been rowdy and festive throughout, truly was stunned.
Though the Coyotes still lead the series 3-2 going into tonight's game in Chicago, there is a palpable feeling of doom around the franchise and its devoted fans.
Remarkably, the team has a solid core group of supporters despite the ownership turmoil, issues with the city of Glendale and so on. These long-suffering fans just want to their team to get to the second-round of the playoffs one time--one time is all they ask!
But if the Blackhawks win at home tonight--and betting people are saying they will--Phoenix will be looking at a Game Seven in Glendale on Wednesday night.
A scary thought, and an exciting one at the same time.
Tonight's game starts at 6 p.m. and will air on FSAZ-Plus.
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