Phoenix should have been lousy last year.
The Coyotes had talent that looked more like it belonged in the AHL than the NHL, they were mired in ownership chaos and uncertainty, and their coach—the best player in the history of the sport—quit in the preseason.
That is a whole lot of excuses they could have used, but they didn’t use any. Instead, they started strong, maintained the pace and made the playoffs.
Anyone who says that they saw that coming is lying.
Last year, they snuck up on teams. But this year, they won’t be able to do that.
Now they carry the weight of expectations on their shoulders.
Phoenix Coyotes Offseason Moves
It’s a sign of the confidence this organization has in the team that they essentially stood pat this summer.
They added Ray Whitney, Andrew Ebbett and Eric Belanger, but most of their focus was on re-signing veterans—eight players were given new contracts. The two notable losses were Zbynek Michalek and Matthew Lombardi.
What this team had last year obviously worked for them—they amassed 107 points. The key was not the talent, though, but the chemistry.
Chemistry is a very hard thing to maintain, but that’s exactly what this team will be trying to do.
Phoenix Coyotes Predictions: Outlook
Last year this team was able to rally around uncertainty—they didn’t know who would own the team or where they would be playing in the coming months and years.
That worked for them, so it’s good news, I guess, that there is still all sorts of uncertainty. The NHL still owns this team, and though there are interested owners, there has been far less progress than anyone would have hoped.
The success they had last year drew some real attention in Phoenix, and that attention should lead to some butts in seats this year—something that was definitely missing last year. The trick for this team will be to stay focused on their tasks and keep listening to the coaching staff instead of reading the headlines and believing the hype.
Working to their credit is a strong veteran core—Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski, Adrian Aucoin and now Ray Whitney—that knows what winning is all about and stands a good chance of keeping things on track.
Phoenix Coyotes NHL Odds
Phoenix is 40-1 to win the Stanley Cup, and 20/1 to win the Conference. Neither price is very flattering.
They are the third choice in the Pacific Division at 11-2.
The biggest challenge this team faces is also the first one.
They start their season with a pair of games against Boston in Prague. Teams that have started their season in Europe have often had issues finding their stride when they return home.
The Coyotes are talented enough to overcome a slow start, so they can’t afford to falter.
Phoenix Coyotes NHL Predictions and Betting Picks
I like the heart this team plays with—it’s impossible not to.
On paper, they aren’t good enough to compete with the Kings or the Sharks, but they aren’t going to let that stop them. I think they will ultimately finish third in the division, but not before they give those two teams a tough chase.
They are a playoff team, and at 20-1, there are certainly less attractive teams when it comes to picking a live longshot. They aren’t a serious longshot, but they are just the kind of team that could get hot at the right time and make some real noise.
This would be a fun team to gamble on.