GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 27: Mikkel Boedker #89 of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrates with teammates Keith Yandle #3 and Shane Doan #19 after his goal against the Nashville Predators in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Arena on April 27, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

Coyotes knew they’d be contenders — in February


While it largely flew under the radar, what Phoenix accomplished in February turned the entire season around.

The Coyotes went 11-0-1 during the month and developed a penchant for playing — and winning — tightly-contested games:

Feb. 4 vs San Jose: 5-3 win
Feb. 5 vs Detroit: 3-1 win
Feb. 7 at Dallas: 4-1 win
Feb. 9 vs. Calgary: 2-1 win OT
Feb. 11 vs. Chicago: 3-0 win
Feb. 13 at Vancouver: 2-1 loss SO
Feb. 16 at Los Angeles: 1-0 win
Feb. 18 vs. Dallas: 2-1 win OT
Feb. 21 vs. Los Angeles: 5-4 win SO
Feb. 23 at Calgary 4-3 win SO
Feb. 25 at Edmonton 3-1 win
Feb. 28 vs. Vancouver 2-1 win SO

Shane Doan said it was during February the team believed it could take on all comers.

“Everybody kind of thought we could beat anybody now,” Doan told the Arizona Republic. “We really did. We thought we could beat anyone. That was probably the first step.”

The similarities between this playoff run and the run through February are mirror-like. Outstanding goaltending from Mike Smith? Check. Effective penalty kill? Check.

Balanced scoring? Big check. In 12 February games, the Coyotes got goals from 14 different players, including Derek Morris (one of his two on the year), Boyd Gordon and Kyle Chipchura.

Through 11 playoff games, 13 different players have scored at least once — that includes Gilbert Brule and Antoine Vermette, who have combined for seven after scoring eight in the regular season.

“You count on so many different guys, and so many different guys are the heroes every night,” Doan said. “It makes it fun.”

Measure of revenge? Red Wings bottle Lightning

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In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.

For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.

Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.

Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.

They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.

Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.

Hands of gold: Connor McDavid scores his first NHL goal


Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.

The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.

To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).

Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:

Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):

McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: