No-quit Yotes continue unbeaten streak; grab Pacific Division lead
I'll stop with the whodathunkit?-themed posts eventually. But the masses of NHL fans who aren't me still won't believe this.
Phoenix is tied for top spot in the Western Conference with the Chicago Blackhawks.
While I may have skimped a little this weekend by only being able to catch the short-reels of both games (except in the case of the Saturday night thriller overtime featuring those same Blackhawks, a game in which you could literally tell there was a sellout crowd screaming in the desert), I am able to tell you that franchise records were established, set, tied, or hinted at in those two matchups. For what concerns this season, 12 shootout wins leads the league. The Closer (not Mariano Rivera, I mean Adrian Aucoin) took over his job of sealing the deal once again against Dallas, having been relieved of that duty the last two shootout wins by Radim Vrbata. Echoes of "Winnipeg" were heard throughout the dressing room after both games, because not only did the Coyotes get their franchise-record 45th win of the season Saturday, the last time this team won nine games in a row was during the days they were better known as the Jets.
Other teams are marveling in what they see. Chicago forward Andrew Ladd was even quoted as saying, "That team is really a model on how teams should play." As for the Coyotes themselves, they continue in their eagerness to keep piling on the wins. To them, the job's not over.
They do seem to be more comfortable using the extra minutes, as in the first case they rustled up comebacks--twice--in order to push the Central Division-leading Blackhawks into giving up two points, whereas last night, they were up 2-0 before Dallas tied the game to send it to overtime (but let's cut them some slack, they only landed in Texas around 3:00 that morning).
It's also worth noting that both goaltenders did the job for their teammates. Ilya Bryzgalov was the true meaning of never-say-die on Saturday (Patrick Kane is probably still asking himself "how did he stop that?" after he was practically mere millimetres from ending the game) and Jason LaBarbera stepped up to the plate in a big way in Dallas, making a few highlight-reel showstoppers of his own to keep his team in it.
Dave Tippett is smiling a lot these days. That alone should say everything.
Nine in a row, nine left. Should be a fantastic finish. ;)