The Top 10 Phoenix Coyotes Stories This Season
The Phoenix Coyotes are not the team that writers expected them to be this year.
Heading into the season many critics believed that this would be the final season in Glendale. Critics expected nothing but the worst for the Coyotes. After an off-season of misery many fans were left frozen to speculate the future of the Coyotes.
A lot of fans didn’t think the Coyotes had a future in Glendale, in fact some people still think the Coyotes can’t survive in the desert.
However, some hockey fans believe that the bankruptcy of the Coyotes is their only story this season when in truth the Coyotes should be the talk of the NHL.
It wasn’t until recently when the talk of the Coyotes became a popular topic amongst other NHL commentators whose names aren’t Todd Walsh, David Strader or Tyson Nash. During the Winter Olympics the Coyotes received national attention for their success for far this season.
What do you know about the Phoenix Coyotes?
Are you checking out information of the Phoenix Coyotes for the first time or are you already a Coyote fan?
I have selected the top 10 stories surrounding the Phoenix Coyotes this season which can either introduce you to the team or go back memory lane as the Coyotes look to pursue their best season in franchise history.
10) Coyotes fall a game short of tying team record for consecutive wins
Sometimes records weren’t made to broken.
Although the further you continue reading this, you will discover that the Coyotes have broken a lot of team records this season.
However, one record that the Coyotes attempted to break this season was setting the franchise record for consecutive wins.
Back in the 2006-07 season, the Coyotes set a franchise record by winning seven straight victories.
The Coyotes flirted with the possibility of the setting the record back in February after the Coyotes defeated the Detroit Red Wings, Calgary Flames, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks.
All the Coyotes had to do was defeat the Dallas Stars once again and the Coyotes would tied the franchise record.
The task of beating the Stars had been manageable prior to their show down as they were 3-0 against them heading into a Saturday showdown with them.
What did the Coyotes do?
The Coyotes had their worst game of the season as the Stars shutout the Coyotes, 4-0.
The loss against division rival Stars stung even harder for Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett who helped guide the Stars to five straight playoff appearances from 2002 until 2008. Last season the Stars missed the playoffs for the first time under Tippett’s guidance which ended up costing him his job.
The Coyotes have since benefitted from the Stars release as Dave Tippett is in the running to for the Jack Adams Award which is awarded to the coach of the year.
There is no question that Tippett deserves this award more than any other coach in the NHL this year. What Tippett has done for this franchise is beyond words. I am certain that the Coyotes one day can break the franchise record for most victories under Tippet’s guidance.
NHL be prepared as the best of the Phoenix Coyotes has yet to happen!
9) Scottie Upshall put on injured reserve for the rest of the season
The Coyotes have been very fortunate this season when it comes to injuries.
They lost defenseman Ed Jovanovski back in November who injured his lower-body in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks back on Nov 5.
That would be the only serious injury that the Coyotes faced this season until Scottie Upshall’s injury which ended his breakout season back on February 13th.
Upshall was leading the team in scoring prior to tearing a knee ligament.
As of today Upshall is currently tied for second on the team in scoring. It wasn’t until recently when the Coyotes were able to replace one of their top scoring threats. That replacement will be discussed later on.
Next to Coyotes captain Shane Doan, there wasn’t a better threat on the ice. The Coyotes could definitely use Upshall right now but they have found his replacement (find out who later on).
Upshall was traded to the Coyotes last season after playing for the Philadelphia Flyers which upset several Flyers fans as they felt they got nothing in return. The Coyotes sent Daniel Carcillo in return for Upshall, I too would be upset if I was a Flyers fan.
Back on July 29th, Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney re-signed Upshall to a one year deal. His contract runs out at the end of the season. If I was Maloney I would do whatever it takes it re-sign Upshall, he was one of the best players on the ice prior to his injury.
I expect an even better season from him next year, bring him back Maloney!
8) First team to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings
The moment I knew that the Coyotes were something special occurred on October 22nd when they defeated last season’s Western Conference Champions the Detroit Red Wings, 3-2.
Why did I know that the Coyotes were something special back in late October?
They were the first team in the NHL this season to defeat the Red Wings and last season’s Stanley Cup Champions the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Not only did the Coyotes defeat Sidney Crosby and the Penguins but they shut out the Penguins costing the Penguins their very first loss of the season.
The Coyotes had a dominant first month of the NHL season going 9-4 in the month of October an excellent way to start their season.
Would the Coyotes win more than nine games in a month?
Continue reading and you might find out!
7) Sami Lepisto the only Phoenix Coyote to win an Olympic Medal
The Phoenix Coyotes sent three players to the Winter Olympics. In my opinion they should have sent five players but more on this later.
The Coyotes sent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, Zbynek Michalek and young defenseman Sami Lepisto to play for their respective countries. In the end it would be the god son of Hockey Hall of Famer Jari Kurri to capture a bronze medal in his first Olympic games for Finland.
Lepisto, 25, helped Finland to a 5-3 victory over Slovakia. Lepisto averaged over 15 minutes a game of ice-time while taking six shots on goal as well as assisting in goal.
In 57 games with the Coyotes this season, Lepisto has one goal and nine assists in his first season with the Coyotes.
The last time a member of the Phoenix Coyotes earned an Olympic Medal happened in 2002, when Danny Markov won a Bronze medal for Russia.
I expect Lepisto to return to Finland for the 2014 Winter Olympics chasing a gold medal to add to his Olympic resume.
6) Shane Doan plays his 1,000th NHL game all with the Coyotes
Shane Doan is as important to the Phoenix Coyotes as Mario Lemieux was for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On December 17th a special piece of Coyotes history was made when Doan played in his 1,000th NHL game all with the Coyotes. It is very rare in this day of age for any player to spend his entire career with one franchise.
To think the greatest player in hockey history Wayne Gretzky played for four teams in his luxurious NHL career. During Doan’s career with the Coyotes he was coached by Wayne Gretzky for four seasons.
There will never be another Shane Doan when Doan decides to call it a career with the Coyotes. Doan’s jersey will hang from the rafters when Doan does decide to call it a career but don’t expect that to happen any time soon as Doan still has plenty of gas left in his tank.
Doan joined a hockey fraternity of 42 hockey players who have played in 1,000 career games in the NHL, 24 of whom, like himself, have done so with the same team that drafted them.
If Doan stays healthy he could pass former teammate Teppo Numminen for most career games played as a member of the Winnipeg Jets-Coyotes organization.
It is no surprise that Doan is the franchise leader in scoring, assists, points, penalty minutes, power play goals, game winning goals and shots on goal. Do I need to say anymore on how valuable Doan is to the Coyote franchise?
Doan has endured the good times and some rough seasons during his 14 seasons with the Jets-Coyotes. He's been a part of six playoff teams and is anticipating a seventh playoff run this season.
5) Ilya Bryzgalov ties team record for most wins in a season by a goalie
There might be only one player to challenge Shane Doan for Team MVP this season and Ilya Bryzgalov might be the Team MVP this season as he deserves too.
This season Bryzgalov has emerged as one of the top goaltenders in the NHL with his dominant force in net.
One of the main reasons for the Coyotes success this season has been because of Bryzgalov.
Against the Colorado Avalanche this past Thursday, Bryzgalov stopped 23 of 24 shots to earn his 33rd victory of the season. Bryzgalov has already bypassed his season high of victories which was 26 (07-08 and 08-09 season). With another win, Bryzgalov will pass Sean Burke (Coyotes goalie coach) and Brian Hayward for the franchise record for wins in a season.
Bryzgalov’s emergence this season couldn’t have come at a better time as Bryzgalov has helped a weak scoring team blossom into playoff contention.
Without Bryzgalov in net the Coyotes are an average team, with Bryzgalov in the net the Coyotes are one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
Bryzgalov’s 33 wins places him 4th in the NHL along with his six shutouts which places him 3rd in the league.
With 17 games remaining left on the schedule for the Coyotes it wouldn’t surprise me to see Bryzgalov win 40 games. If Bryzgalov does win at least seven more games this season, he will tie former Coyote great Nikolai Khabibulin for second all-time wins as a Phoenix Coyote.
Sean Burke is the all-time leader in Coyote history in wins with 97, I expect Bryzgalov to break Burke’s record sometime next season.
4) Shane Doan left off Team Canada’s Olympic roster
Every captain in the NHL should be an Olympian.
However, Steve Yzerman the executive director for Team Canada thought otherwise leaving Shane Doan off Team Canada’s roster.
Doan has built himself a strong resume during international play for Canada. He has two gold medals and two silvers while competing for Team Canada during the World Champions while playing for Canada’s 2006 Winter Olympic Team.
Competing internationally for Team Canada, he has won two gold medals and two silvers at the World Championships, as well as one World Cup championship in 2004. He was also a member of Canada's 2006 Winter Olympic team.
However, when Doan was selected to play for the 2006 Winter Olympic team it came with controversy. When Doan was selected for the Olympic Games in 2006, Canadian Liberal MP Denis Coderre wrote a letter to the Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson asking to take Doan off the team unless Doan apologized for a racial slur he said during a December 13, 2005 against a Francophone referee against the Montreal Canadians.
Doan would file a lawsuit for defamation against Coderree for $250,000 while promising to contribute any damage awards to charity. The case is still depending to this day.
Controversy would stir again a year later when Doan was named captain for the 2007 national men’s hockey team. A Canadian Official Language parliamentary committee led by Quebec separatist party Bloc Quebecois who demanded Hockey Canada to appear before the committee to explain their decision of naming Doan captain despite the alleged racial comment he made back in 2005.
Doan would respond with what he does best, play hockey. Doan would quite his critics by scoring a hat-trick against Belarus in six minutes and 25 seconds.
The decision of leaving Doan off this past Olympic team is still unknown. Doan is the epitome of captains in the NHL, he’s played with the same time his entire career and has been extremely productive during his 14 year career in the NHL. If Doan played for a highly marketed team such as the Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs or the Boston Bruins for example he would be a household name.
I’m certain that if Doan played for Canada during this past Olympics that the Canadians would have been undefeated behind Doan’s veteran leadership.
Plus Doan would look with a gold medal around his neck.
3) Coyotes set franchise record for most wins in a month
It was a December to remember for the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Coyotes set a franchise record for 10 wins in the month the month of December. In their 41st game of the season the Coyotes managed to sneak past the Vancouver Canucks on December 28 in shootout fashion for the Coyotes to earn their 10th victory of the month in December.
Back in October the Coyotes tied the franchise record for most wins in a month and only a few months later this season’s Coyotes would have the record all to themselves.
While this game was the official mid-way game of the season the Coyotes had 25 victories out of the 41 games the most in franchise history at the halfway point of the season.
During the record setting month in December the Coyotes outscored their opponents 32-13.
The 10 wins wasn’t the only accomplishment the Coyotes had with the number ten. From Nov. 21 to Dec.29 the Coyotes were on a 10 game home winning streak another franchise record. The very next game against division rival the San Jose Sharks the Coyotes would snap their 10 game home winning streak in a shootout.
During the month of December the Coyotes earned 23 points to help their cause in the playoff push. Every game matters in the NHL and the Coyotes truly helped their playoff cause in December.
In his strong efforts in net during December Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was named second star of the month in December after posting an 8-2-3 record with a 1.82 goals against average (GAA) and a .939 save percentage (SV%).
This was the second time this season Bryzgalov was named second star of the month this season. Bryzgalov was named second star of the month back in October.
2) Coyotes stun everyone at the NHL Trade Deadline
Raise your hand if you thought the Phoenix Coyotes were going to any trades during the trade deadline.
Are you hearing crickets yet?
I was shocked and very pleased to find out that the Coyotes were the talk of the NHL trade deadline by making seven trades on the trade deadline.
For a team that rarely makes trades the thought of seven trades was jaw dropping. However, the trades was the perfect recipe for the Coyotes who are playing to win this season and not gearing up for the future which was virtually their motto for the past several seasons.
The future is now for the Coyotes, they want to win and they want to win this season. The Coyotes haven’t made the playoffs since 2002 and they look to make a push in the playoffs with these acquisitions.
The Coyotes gained five players and lost two Coyotes in Peter Mueller and Anders Erikkson. It came to no surprise that Mueller was traded since he had been rumored to be traded all season long. Back in December I posted an article (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/314546-what-team-will-peter-mueller-finish-the-season-with) about which could land Mueller. In recent weeks I thought that Mueller would end up in Boston and was completely surprised to find out that he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche.
In perhaps what was the biggest trade of the trade line the Coyotes sent forwards Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter to Colardo in exchange for left wing Wojtek Wolski.
The acquisition of Wolski is just what the Coyotes needed as they were left without a scoring threat ever since the Coyotes lost Scottie Upshall last month.
In case you missed out all the last minute trades, I got your back.
• Phoenix Coyotes send Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Wojtek Wolski.
• Phoenix Coyotes send a conditional draft pick in the 2011 NHL Draft to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Derek Morris.
• Phoenix Coyotes send a conditional draft pick in the 2010 NHL Draft and Sean Zimmerman to Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Mathieu Schneider.
• Phoenix Coyotes send a fourth round draft pick, seventh round pick and Matt Jones to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Lee Stempniak.
• Phoenix Coyotes send a sixth round draft pick in the 2011 NHL Draft to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Pettrei Nokelainen.
• Phoenix Coyotes send Chad Kolarik to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Alexandre Picard. Picard will report to Phoenix’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage.
• Phoenix Coyotes send Anders Eriksson to the New York Rangers in exchange for goaltender Miika Wiikman and a seventh round draft choice in the 2011 Entry Draft. Wiikman will report to the San Antonio Rampage.
The Coyotes completely reshaped their roster with these acquisitions as well bringing back a familiar face in Derek Morris. Morris was traded to the New York Rangers back on Mar. 4 in exchange for Petr Prucha, Nigel Dawes and Dmitri Kalinin. Morris brings in veteran leadership who served as an assistant captain for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Two members of this trade class made his presence known already on Thursday when Wojtek Wolski and Lee Stempniak scored against the Colorado Avalanche.
It’s only a matter of time until the rest of this trade class steps up from what Wolski and Stempniak had already started.
1) Phoenix Coyotes look to end their playoff drought.
Everything that the Coyotes did this season, they did for a reason.
When Wayne Gretzky stepped down as head coach critics thought this team would collapse with the bankruptcy case over their shoulders.
Instead collapsing the Coyotes went polar opposite and became one of the best teams in the Western Conference. Under the guidance on new head coach Dave Tippett, the Coyotes have become a threat in the Western Conference.
This didn’t happen overnight either.
Remember when I said that they are not gearing up for the future which was virtually their motto for the past several seasons?
Everything that they did in the last few seasons has benefitted the Coyotes.
To quote a song from “Underwear Goes Inside the Pants” by Lazy Boy this one lyric summarizes the Coyotes completely. “Sometimes you have to suffer a little bit in your youth to motivate yourself to succeed in later life.”
No other team went through an off-season that the Coyotes went through. A lot of players didn’t know whether or not next season would happen in Arizona or in Canada. The team filled for bankruptcy last May and the NHL has been funding this team that was supposed to sit at the bottom of the Western Conference.
Instead the Coyotes have the third best record in the Western Conference as they have already bypassed last season’s win total and the Coyotes still have 17 games left to play.
By the end of the month the Coyotes should clinch a playoff birth, no one would have imagined this bankrupt team to be anywhere near the top of the Western Conference.
Then again who really trusts what sport writers have to say anyways?