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.
Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium
The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.
Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.
The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)
The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.
The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.
Fifteen games into his tenure, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.
“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”
The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.
The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.
Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.
The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.
According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.
“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”
In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.