GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With the first division title in franchise history and home ice in the first round of the playoffs secure, Phoenix Coyotes fans are already showing a few symptoms of Stanley Cup fever.
More than 300 fans were waiting well past midnight for the Coyotes charter to land at Sky Harbor International Airport after Saturday's division-clinching win at Minnesota. Captain Shane Doan was high-fiving fans from the window of his truck while goalie Mike Smith and defenseman Keith Yandle traded smiles and handshakes with the faithful insomniacs.
But odds makers aren't as impressed with Phoenix's strong finish and high seed. They ranked the Coyotes last among the 16 teams when it comes to chance of winning the Stanley Cup. Many are picking the Chicago Blackhawks to send Phoenix home in the first round for the eighth straight time since moving to Arizona -- and history is on their side.
The last time the franchise won a playoff series, it was located in Winnipeg and Ronald Reagan was president (1986-87). Now, 23 years and 12 playoff failures later -- including three Game 7 losses, two of them on home ice -- the Coyotes will try it again, this time with division banner in tow.