Maybe they don’t get the job done in the sexiest way possible, but make no mistake about it. The Phoenix Coyotes are the hottest team in the NHL right now.
Want proof? OK, here are some numbers that make the claim borderline inarguable.
They just beat the league-leading Vancouver Canucks 2-1 via a shootout thanks in a large part to Ray Whitney’s third period game-tying goal.
Phoenix holds the NHL’s longest active winning streak (six games in a row).
The Coyotes will end the night on top of the Pacific Division whether the San Jose Sharks hold on to win against the Philadelphia Flyers or not.
Dave Tippett’s team was undoubtedly the best squad in February, going a stunning 11-0-1 (albeit with four shootout wins.)
Mike Smith is barging his way into the Vezina Trophy argument, even if many will discount his work – quite reasonably – because of the system in front of him. Still, his 11-game winning streak leaves him at 29-14-7 with impressive individual numbers.
Yup, that’s an impressive run for a Coyotes team that looks bound to defy expectations (and some might say, logic and reason) for a third consecutive season.
Of course, the bigger question might be: can Phoenix finally translate its regular season work to playoff success? It’s tough to say, but let me provide the first bit of advice: avoid the Detroit Red Wings at all costs.
With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.
Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.
Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut
“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”
Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.
Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.
DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.
Blashill says DeKeyser has a bruise, not a break. Will know more tomorrow, but probably day-to-day