The clock finally struck midnight in the Cinderella story that was the Phoenix Coyotes 2009/ 2010 season.
The Coyotes got blown out by the Detroit Red Wings in game seven of the Western Conference playoffs last night, losing 6-1, but kept fans on their feet until the bitter end.
The Coyotes played terribly, and it was clear early in the third period -- when the Howlers went down 5-1 -- that emerging to the second round of the playoffs, for the first time in the team's history in the desert, was not in the cards. But fans stayed and cheered on the team that, for the moment, has made hockey somewhat relevant again in the Valley.
After the final horn blew, and the Coyotes were confirmed as losers, the fans gave them a final standing howl as the team circled the ice to pay homage to the droves of supporters they acquired over the past year, despite off-the-ice turmoil.
Aside from that mildly touching moment, watching the game as a Coyotes fan was tough.
Some bad officiating certainly didn't help things for the Coyotes, but it didn't make much of a difference because the Coyotes couldn't move the puck, and, once again, the power play was non-existent.
The Coyotes were goose-egged on five power plays last night, including two where they didn't even take a single shot. That's been the problem -- as we've pointed out on several occasions -- all season.
The Coyotes, once again, spent too much time playing around with the puck, making bad passes -- one of which resulted in a Detroit goal -- trying to set up the perfect shot, which, in the NHL, seldom exists.
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Despite the six goals, Coyotes goalie Illya Bryzgalov played well, but when the guys in front of him allowed the Detroit fore-check to take 50 shots, he didn't stand much of a chance.
The Coyotes lone goal came off a heads-up play by Coyotes center Vernon Fiddler.
On a faceoff to the right side of Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, Fiddler saw a hole in Howard's stance and rather than try to win the faceoff back to his defender, he fired a quick shot that found the hole.
The Coyotes season is now over, and a deal to keep the team in the Valley is anything but certain, but the Coyotes seem to have developed a decent fan base that will hopefully carry over to next season, when the Howlers will have another chance to dazzle the hockey world with another exciting season.