The Phoenix Coyotes are for realby Tyler Pollard on Nov. 03, 2013, under NHL
If you haven’t noticed already, there is something special brewing on in Glendale right now.
The Phoenix Coyotes are for real this year. After a huge 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks in a shootout late saturday night, Dave Tippet and his team now sit on the verge on leading the division with 22 points which is just one point back of San Jose and The Anaheim Ducks.
The Coyotes are just a year and a half removed from reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2012, and after underachieving last year in the lockout season that was overshadowed a lot by the ownership contrary but are proving this year what a difference a full season and a stable ownership group can make.
Amidst a bunch of controversy between the NHL and the Coyotes over the offseason as to whether the Coyotes would stay in Glendale the Coyotes were finally able to get an owner in IceArizona. Finishing a four year process in which the Coyotes were headed without an owner, the new ownership has already paid dividends for the team.
The first big dividend in the new ownership group comes in the form of new Coyotes center Mike Ribeiro. As they were able to go out and Ribeiro in a four-year, $22 million dollar deal this offseason. Ribeiro is coming off a season in Washington in which he had 49 points for the Capitals, which would have been 19 more than any other player. The signing has been huge for the Coyotes, who were looking to improve at Center over the offseason as Ribeiro is a guy who makes things happen. He’s a good veteran who will help develop Mikkel Boedker as well as make it easier for guys like Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata.
They’re fun to watch too.
Most NHL games you watch, you are gonna like a lot scoring as it’s entertaining and exciting. Well the Coyotes have been doing a lot of that this year. They are averaging 3.4 GPG which is good enough for third in the NHL. It hasn’t just been one guy lighting up the scoreboard for them either, as they have been receiving contributions from everyone.
Vrbata has been the main contributor so far as his 12 points and five goals are each leading the team but not far behind him in terms of points are Keith Yandle, Martin Hanzal, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson with 11 points. While guys like Boedker, Doan and Ribeiro have contributed as scorers.
Even goalie Mike Smith got in on the fun with his first career goal against Detroit on October 19th, but the Coyotes aren’t counting on Smith to be a consistent scorer as much as they’re counting on him to stop shots.
Smith, one of the top goalies in the league in 2011, is coming off an average year last year in which he said the lockout really affected him. Despite this, the organization has him locked up and believes in him as the goalie for the Coyotes. The Coyotes are going to need him to return to 2011 form this year however if they want to contend.
Smith played spectacular Saturday night in San Jose with 48 saves and a save percentage of .960 against one of the top offenses in the NHL. This is an effort the Coyotes expect to see more out of Smith as he is the key component to them making a run.
The Coyotes have talent all over the ice and are ready to move on from the past four years of not having an owner up top. They have a lot to prove on the ice and to the rest of the league, that hockey belongs in Arizona. So don’t be surprised if come playoff time, the Coyotes are prime contenders for the Stanley Cup.