The Phoenix Coyotes are in the thick of things in the Western Conference. Their 34-points would give them the seventh seed in the NHL playoffs if they were to start today, and are just two points from being the number two-seeded team. The Coyotes now enter a stretch that could literally break their season. This weeklong east coast swing will hit four cities with two being the red-hot Rangers and Penguins.
After a November that saw the Yotes win seven straight games they have been able to keep that momentum going into December. Phoenix is 3-1-1 at the beginning of the month with victories over conference opponents Minnesota, Anaheim and Dallas. The latest coming against the Stars in a 5-2 victory Saturday night at Jobing.Com Arena.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan scored two goals and was a post away from registering his first career NHL hat trick.
“He played a strong game, shot the puck hard and got rewarded going to the net,” commented head coach Dave Tippett. “I thought our whole group, Shane included, that it was a much better effort for us. We wanted to push the pace as quick as we could, and really try to dictate the game on the forecheck. I thought we came out in the first period and did that.”
Doan now as 12-points in eighteen games this season and is starting to play the kind of hockey that the Coyotes expect from him.
Defensemen Keith Yandle has also matured and evolved into one of the best overall defensemen in the league. Yandle’s 13 assists and 18-points is second on the team behind winger Ray Whitney and he has been a staple all season on the Yotes blueline. He understood the importance of playing well on Saturday night and understands how this east coast road trip could shape their season.
“I think we stressed that going into this game,” said Yandle, “the last few days and during practice how important it is to play this team because they were ahead of us in the standings. They’re a division rival team and its good that we can come together and play as well as we did.”
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Written by Robb Patty