I’m sitting in the stands at Mellon Arena as the Philadelphia Flyers complete their off-day workout between Games 1 and 2 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. I finally have a moment to reflect on the last couple of weeks of the Coyotes’ season and look ahead to covering the playoffs on Versus.
|(Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images) |
It’s hard to believe that I already have two seasons of Coyotes hockey behind me. It’s been a fun ride working side-by-side with Panger and getting to know the rest of our TV crew. Todd Walsh is the ultimate pro and his sense of humor combined with his dedication to our shows has made it a pleasure to come to the rink or get on the team plane for a road trip. I can say the same for the rest our crew: Graham Taylor, Andy Bock, Mitch Riggin, Mike Roth, Megan Buchan and Liz Scott all are committed to making Coyotes hockey fun and informative. It’s also been great getting together with the radio voices of the Coyotes, Bob Heethuis and Tyson Nash. Our “hot stove” sessions on game days will be missed until we get together again at training camp.
Like many of you Coyotes fans, it was tough for all of us to watch the season unravel after the All-Star break. I do like the changes that were made at the trade deadline and I’ve got my fingers crossed that once the ownership situation is resolved we’ll see a very active management team led by Don Maloney. The key events for the Coyotes (and every other team in the NHL!) will be the draft in Montreal and the free-agency period that begins on July 1.
As the season was winding down, I was preparing for working the playoffs for Versus as well as making plans for the off-season at my upstate New York home. Since I need my car at home in the summer, I decided to drive my car from Glendale, Ariz., to a friend’s home in Troy, Mich. (a little over 2,000 miles). I figured I could leave early Easter morning and make it to Troy by early afternoon on Tuesday. By late Sunday, I would have my assignments for the first round and I might even get lucky and open the playoffs in Detroit. The worst-case scenario was I would hop on a plane on Tuesday night in Detroit and fly to my first playoff destination. As it turned out, I was assigned Games 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7 in the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia series, Game 3 in the St. Louis-Vancouver series and Game 5 in the Detroit-Columbus series.
It all worked out and I’ve got to admit that the drive was not as tough as I thought it would be. Thank goodness for XM-Sirius Radio! I made it from Glendale to Hinton, Okla., the first day (about 930 miles) and on to Tinley Park, Ill. the second day (another 800 miles) and then to Troy (about 280 miles). I caught a 7 p.m. flight from Detroit to Pittsburgh on Tuesday and was ready to go Wednesday night for Game 1 of Penguins-Flyers on Versus!
|(Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images) |
Now that the Stanley Cup Playoffs are under way, it’s amazing once again to see how the intensity and emotions are ratcheted up when the puck drops in the postseason. With all the intense battles we saw during the last month of the regular season as teams struggled just to get into the playoffs, there is another level that arrives with playoff hockey.
Game 1 in Pittsburgh was a great example. This series has all the elements that any hockey fan could want: rival teams, star power on both sides and two teams that both believe they can win it all. Right from the first shift when Chris Kunitz of the Penguins finished a hard check on Kimo Timmonen of the Flyers, you just knew this was playoff hockey.
I hope you’ll tune in to Versus for all of our coverage of the playoffs. For those of you in the greater Phoenix area, here is where you can find Versus on your cable or satellite provider:
Dish Network: 151-151
As always, stop back here to phoenixcoyotes.com for all the latest on the Coyotes as well as news from around the NHL. I’ll be updating this blog throughout the postseason.
Enjoy the playoffs everybody!