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Phoenix Coyotes Secret Weapons About To Become Olympians

Derek PivkoCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 23:  (L-R) Ed Jovanovski #55, Zbynek Michalek #4, Shane Doan #19, Matthew Lombardi #15 and Scottie Upshall #8 of the Phoenix Coyotes stand attended for the National Anthem before the NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks at Jobing.com Arena on December 23, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Ducks 4-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There is a secret behind the Phoenix Coyotes success this season which hasn’t been exposed until now.

Defense wins championships, and with a young and talented defense, the Coyotes have risen from pretenders to contenders.

The reasons for the Coyotes' success may be credited in February when the Coyotes could send three defensemen to the Winter Olympics.

As of today, the Coyotes' Zbynek Michalek (Czech Republic) and Sami Lepisto (Finland) have been selected to represent their respective countries. It will be the first time for these young defenseman to represent their countries in the Olympics.

Michalek, 27, will be joining a Czech Republic team which includes Olympic veteran Jaromir Jagr, the only remaining player from the 1998 Czech Republic gold medal team in Nagano.

Michalek has played on the top defensive line for the Coyotes this season with Ed Jovanovski, who did not make the roster for Team Canada.

If you haven’t watched the Coyotes play this season, you will soon realize why Michalek is not only an Olympian, but a secret weapon behind the success of the Phoenix Coyotes.

In 32 games this season with the Coyotes, Michalek has two goals and seven assists. However, he is known for preventing shots. He is highly credited for the success of Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and his NHL leading five shutouts.

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Lepisto, 25, is the godson of Hall of Famer Jarri Kurri. Lepisto is in his rookie season with the Coyotes after excelling in the AHL the past two seasons.

This past offseason, the Coyotes were very successful in landing key prospects. Back in June, the Coyotes acquired the Finnish Olympian in exchange for a fifth round draft pick.

Lepisto has appeared in 35 games for the Coyotes this season and has five assists in his rookie year.

The Coyotes will not stop sending defensemen to the Olympics. With Team USA yet to release their roster, do not be surprised to see Keith Yandle named to the team.

Team Canada made a lot of Coyote fans howl when Team Canada Executive Director Steve Yzerman left Coyotes captain Shane Doan and assistant captain Ed Jovanovski off the Olympic roster.

The Coyotes owe a lot of their success to their defense this season, and their effort has paid off as the Coyotes could send as many as three defensemen to the Olympics.

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