If a team rides near the top of the conference all season long,
overcoming all expectations and even coming close to competing for the
top seed in the conference, generally they don’t enter the playoffs as
underdogs. For the Phoenix Coyotes, who seemingly against all odds are
headed to the playoffs with home-ice in the first round, that’s the
reality as they prepare to face the Detroit Red Wings.
franchise’s first playoffs appearance since 2002; the Red Wings are the
most successful franchise in the NHL in the past 20 years.
Hence, the Coyotes will be considered underdogs, and already I’m
seeing a number of predictions that have the Red Wings taking them out
in the first round. That’s just fine with them, says
coach Dave Tippett:
“That’s who we’ve been all
year,” he said. “From the first day I got
here, people looked around like ‘What are you doing?’ That’s how we’ve
been able to thrive all year, so why would it change now?”
Coyotes are embracing their underdog status, saying as a group they’re
as good as any team in the NHL.
What’s interesting is that the
Red Wings are the favorites based on a solid pedigree yet the Coyotes
have by far had the best season between the two. But the Wings are hot,
have a hot goaltender and are healthy; it’s tough to pick against them.
Coyotes have been an incredibly successful team, turning things around
in just one season, but it seems that no one is taking them as serious
contenders. Taking out the Red Wings and moving on to the second round
— well, that will certainly turn some heads.