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Phoenix Coyotes In Fourth Place: Despite The Critics They Still Stand

Eric LaForgeCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 29:  Goaltender Jason LaBarbera #1 of the Phoenix Coyotes is congratulated by teammates after defeating the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on December 29, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Canucks 3-2 in an overtime shootout.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I don't really know where to start. The fact that the Phoenix Coyotes are playing this well in the middle of the season is a minor miracle.

Their success comes after all of the distractions the team faced in the off season, the trouble they had with attendance, and the adversity that was put in front of them by the critics.

I don't think that the Phoenix Coyotes could have asked for a better turnout to their season, even if it is only halfway over.

So far, everything this season has improved, mostly the team. I'm going to attribute most of that to the solid play of Ilya Bryzgalov. However, the defense needs to receive some credit, too. Together, they give Phoenix the third best defense in the NHL behind Chicago and New Jersey.

However, there are a couple of things in the standings that make this season special as well.

Right now, the Coyotes have 54 points and are fourth in the Western Conference. To give you some perspective, that's the same amount of points as the Washington Capitals, and one more than the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are also two points ahead of the third place Colorado Avalanche, although, I don't think that being in front of the Avalanche is as impressive as it was in October. However, it still means that they are beating entire divisions.

It seems like everything the front office did this season to improve the team worked, mainly getting rid of Gretzky as a coach. He's the best player to ever play this game, but he's a terrible coach.

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But, the important thing is what this has done for the city. The Coyotes' attendance has started to rise too. They have found a system to get people into games (see my article on that ). However, I think that's a biproduct of a winning season, you get more people into games.

I'm still going to declare this season a minor miracle (so far) for the Phoenix Coyotes. It's definitely the biggest shocker that we've seen out of any team this season.

See more of my NHL opinions at Tips for Hockey.

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