So, while no formal workout is being staged here inside Jobing.com Arena today, I can report that the buzz created by the team’s seven-game winning streak is indeed palpable.
|Dave Vest |
The Coyotes next play on Saturday, at home against the Anaheim Ducks. That gives us a few days to reflect on – and enjoy – what this team has accomplished the past few weeks.
I’ve been impressed by many things the Coyotes have done during the winning streak, which started on Nov. 10 in Chicago with a 2-1 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champs. Three straight victories in the western Canada rinks stand out. Also, the play of the special teams has been quite noteworthy. During this stretch, the Coyotes’ power play has clicked at a 28.5 percent efficiency rate and the penalty-kill unit has erased four out of every five power plays for the bad guys.
The Coyotes vs. Oilers game was the only NHL game played on Tuesday night. That turned out to be a terrific scenario for Phoenix, as the Coyotes thrived in the spotlight with the entire hockey community watching. What observers witnessed was a game that encapsulates exactly what this team is all about: a true pack mentality.
Winger Ray Whitney
leads the Coyotes with 15 points. That total ranks 75th in the NHL on the individual scoring list, but that’s OK. The only ranking that really counts in this league are the standings, and the Coyotes are at the top of those in the Pacific Division and only one point behind Detroit in the Western Conference as they pass the first-quarter mark of their season.
Despite the streak and the hoopla surrounding it, Tippett is not content with the team's play. Check out this quote from his post-game press conference on Tuesday night:
"We're only just past the 20-game mark. I'll get excited when I feel we're good enough to do something. Give all the credit in the world to these guys for how hard they're working, but it's early."
A colleague of mine asked me last night which player I think has been the MVP so far this season. Honestly, I feel there are many Coyotes who deserve that nod. For instance…
|Photo by Getty Iamges. |
• Ilya Bryzgalov, of course, has been the workhorse in net and has picked up where he left off last season when he was the runner-up for the Vezina Trophy. He’s already won 10 games and we haven’t even had Thanksgiving dinner yet.
• Defenseman Keith Yandle
, who has been playing close to 30 minutes per game the past week or so, has thrived as an alternate captain and is making it difficult for Tippett to take him off the ice.
• Whitney, who battled a hand injury early on, has shown his elite playmaking skills during this streak and is making the players he plays with better.
• And center Eric Belanger has quietly made an impact with regular point production and success in the faceoff circles.
The list goes on and on, wouldn’t you agree? Write me and let me know which player YOU think has been the team’s No. 1 Star through 21 games.
And finally, the Coyotes have been receiving plenty of media attention on national and international levels the past few days. Below I have listed links to some of the better stories I’ve read about this team lately. I hope you enjoy them, and Happy Thanksgiving to all.• USA TODAY• ESPN.com
Reach Dave Vest at firstname.lastname@example.org
and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.