We Can’t Lose On Bobblehead Night

Desk Speaker Smitty

Desk Speaker Smitty

The Capitals rolled into Glendale riding a four game win streak.

With less than 3 minutes and 30 seconds left in their game last night, the Coyotes were down 3-1 to the Caps, having blown a lead and providing them the opportunity to exercise their vaunted (and NHL leading) power play for 19 minutes. Six of those minutes went to one unnamed guy who will certainly have some doghouse time.

No strangers to self-imposed adversity, the Coyotes tied it up in regulation, killed off yet another penalty skating 4 on 3 in the overtime and got their fourth shootout win in five games to end up 4-3.

That was fun. Lots of fun.

Despite having wildly entertaining, if stressful, hockey at their disposal, Coyotes friends and foes alike remain focused on the business of hockey and attendance figures. It’s understandable for a lot of reasons, and it SHOULD be becoming clear that the performance of the team on the ice is a direct response to the pressure they feel to prove what we’ve been saying for years.

Fill The Barn

It’s logical to assume a great way to fill the seats in your arena on a consistent basis is to win at home. Nearly all of the seats at Jobing.com arena were full last night. Details? 16,106 and 94.1% of capacity. That’s 1,000 more people than watch Winnipeg Jets games.

Some people came to watch one of the most entertaining hockey players to ever skate on NHL ice, the captain of the Capitals Alex Ovechkin. Some people came for a Mike Smith bobblehead.

It doesn’t matter, every NHL team will make their way through the Coyotes house and promotions are designed to promote attendance. The attendance trend is up and there’s electricity in the air at every Coyotes game.

It’s an exciting feeling, actually a buzz, for the Coyotes faithful and it’s more exciting because we can see it spreading. Think about it… if last night was the first Coyotes game you attended, wouldn’t you be back for more?

The ownership group (I’m officially removing the “new” adjective today) is massaging every aspect of the Coyotes experience and trying all sorts of things, working really hard to make their investment work. They are doing their part and responding to a lot of challenges successfully.

When you’re part of the hockey side of the Coyotes business, you don’t have direct control of any revenue streams. The effects your operation have on the bottom line is a lot of hefty salaries sucking the revenue OUT of the business. The only thing you have direct control of is, of course, the most visible and important part of a professional hockey business, the entertainment “product” on the ice. The job of the team is to win hockey games, especially at home.

The Coyotes have won eight home games and sustained a single overtime loss at home this year. Every time the Coyotes skated off the ice to their home dressing room, they’ve done it with points in their pockets this season. That matters to ticket buyers.

Leadership Matters

Here’s the broken record part of this post. If you’ve read any of my rantings you’re aware of my unabashed admiration for the Captain of the Coyotes. You KNEW this was coming.

I’ll admit that I thought the Coyotes were going to lose last night. However, before the third period, I tweeted a fervent hope for a solution that has worked so many times in the past.

I didn’t know Doaner followed me on Twitter, but apparently he does because that’s exactly what we got.

The third period was still challenging to watch as a Coyotes fan, but the vibe was good and the Captain had the attitude on the ice and his team followed through with him. Korpi scored a crazy, hard working goal with less than four minutes left and the Captain tied the game with less than two left.

It was crazy exciting and my voice isn’t recovered yet. Wow. The overtime was also a challenge, but by the time the shootout arrived we all ALMOST felt assured of a win.

Vermette schooled Caps goalie Neuvirth and then Boeds did the same to MAYBE make up for his many penalties last night. Neither Caps shooter, including Ovechkin (who was mostly contained all night) got a shot on goal.

From The Room To The Ice

Composure and confidence, that’s what must have hit the ice for the third period. So what happened in the room in the second intermission? I don’t know, but Smitty offered a clue with his quote to Craig Morgan (click here for his recap story):

“Yands said, ‘We can’t lose on bobblehead night,” according to goalie Mike Smith, who was the subject of said bobblehead. “So we went out there and responded.”

Yandle has the “A” on his sweater for a reason, Herb Brooks level inspiring speeches might not be one of those reasons. But, he’s concise and effective.

Doaner and Charles Woodall-Pike cactusonice.wordpress.com

Doaner and Charles Woodall-Pike
cactusonice.wordpress.com

The first star of the game was Shane Doan, as he should have been. While it’s always hard to hear the skateup interview with Walshy after the game (you hear that, sound guys?), it was clear that the Captain gave all the credit to the second and third stars of the game, his defensemen OEL and the aforementioned Yandle.

Thus, the capital “C” is, yet again, polished a little brighter.

And then, on his way home in his nicely optioned but not Kustomized pickup that probably even has some mud in the wheel wells and hay remnants in the bed, he stopped for a second or two for a picture.

Because that’s the way he, and consequently the rest of his team, roll.

It’s a great time to be a Coyotes fan. If you’re not aboard yet, jump on the bandwagon because something special is happening here.

Next? We’ll discuss the wisdom of a marketing strategy that includes playing games that take days off the life expectancy of rabid fans.

(click here for Sarah McLellan’s story on the game)

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