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The Official Site of the Arizona Coyotes


by Luke Lapinski / Arizona Coyotes
It’s awards season. OK, it’s not. But it’s the Winter Olympics break and I miss the NHL so I’m handing out hardware to the Coyotes for the first part of the season. Indulge me…

           Luke Lapinski
Unlikely Shootout Hero Award: This simply can’t go to anyone other than Adrian Aucoin. His “move” is to shoot the puck through the goalie - and it works every time. The best part is his celebration, which really just looks like he’s bored and mildly upset that the goalie was even there at all.

Cheesy Sports Movie That Best Resembles The 2009-10 Coyotes: The Mighty Ducks. Part one of course (in fact, do me a favor: don’t even talk to me about the third one. It’s so sappy that it brings dishonor to my family on some level). But the original really does capture this team. They were an afterthought to most “experts” around North America and some people didn’t even want them to get to play at all. But a new head coach brought out the best in all of them and they rallied with an unrealistic number of last-second wins to put together a special story. Plus, I’m half-convinced Don Maloney had to re-draw a few district lines to pry some of these guys away from their old teams for practically nothing. Never a bad thing when your season resembles a Disney movie through 63 games.

Offensive Performance Of The Year: Scottie Upshall’s natural hat trick against his former team was huge. At the time, Nashville and Phoenix were even in the standings with 61 points and Nashville held a 2-1 edge entering the third period. That’s when Upshall went off, leading a raucous Glendale crowd along a 10-minute ride the likes of which we haven‘t seen in quite some time. When the dust had settled, he had three unanswered goals and the Coyotes skated away with a 4-2 win that sent them surging up the Western Conference standings and left the Preds reeling.

Strangest Moment Of The Year: Wandering into the locker room after practice only to hear Ilya Bryzgalov singing Jay-Z’s “New York” before the game against the Rangers. That song will never be the same for me. Ever. I’m just glad no one jumped in as Alicia Keys to sing backup.

Most Dramatic Win: Jan. 26... Down two goals with 90 seconds left... In Detroit... I’m pretty sure we all remember this one. As usual, Bob Heethuis pegged it perfectly when he dubbed it the “Motor City Miracle.” Oh yeah, it kick started a six-game winning streak and a stretch where they took eight of nine. Not bad.

Jack Adams Award (NHL Coach of the Year): Uh… Dave Tippett. I shouldn’t have to go through his credentials. I just wanted to make sure we started talking about this now because if he somehow doesn’t win, I’ll be questioning everyone’s sanity.

Moment You Could Tell This Team Was For Real: I was sold after eight games. They weren’t awful last season and, coming out of camp, it was clear they were much better this year. Then, eight tilts in, they were 6-2 with road wins over LA, Pittsburgh and San Jose and victories at home over Boston and Detroit. Plus, one of those losses came against Columbus in a game that a) was 1-0 until a late empty netter and b) I’m still half convinced didn’t even happen. If you watched the game, you saw nothing but domination by the Coyotes, yet for some reason they just couldn’t solve Mathieu Garon. Which brings up the very valid question: how many times has the phrase “couldn’t solve Mathieu Garon” ever been uttered in a serious tone?

Team MVP: I could go with Bryzgalov for single handedly winning a number of games and keeping the team in countless others. Or Upshall for providing a spark every time he touched the ice. Or Radim Vrbata for leading the team in goals and plus/minus while being so ridiculously humble that he almost seems embarrassed that he’s a good player. Or Shane Doan for being Shane Doan. Truth is, there hasn’t been any one player that has emerged as more valuable than all the others. Hopefully, it stays that way.

Biggest Reason To Come Out And See The Team During Their Stretch Run: Did you read anything I just wrote? They have the fourth best record in the NHL and they’re fun to watch. And here’s the kicker: the best may still be yet to come…

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