NHL: A Look at the Phoenix Coyotes
This past offseason might have been the most successful and jubilant one in the history of the Phoenix Coyotes organization and, yes, even for its fans. They have been to the playoffs before and even made it to the Western Conference Finals but the reason it was the most successful offseason is that NHL hockey will continue in Phoenix. The Coyotes are here to stay.
After four plus years of bankruptcy and the NHL owning the team, the team has found local ownership and they will be staying in Arizona for the foreseeable future. This is great news for the team and their fans. They now have the stability that will increase their ability to obtain “key” free agents and make positive trades not based on salary but for team needs and develop a successful marketing campaign to attract new fans.
Let’s take a look at a few players that will need to step it up in order to help the Coyotes make it back to the playoffs this season.
The Coyotes are a good defensive group, led by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle. Yandle has explosive skating ability and excellent instincts for the game. He is very skillful at playing the point on the power play as well. He will always compete hard, and you will find him everywhere on the ice.
Ekman-Larrson has the all around potential and great intuition for the blue line position. He needs to cut down on his mistakes but will provide the fans with first rate puck-moving as a defenseman.
Shane Doan is the definitive team-first guy. He is a confident, steady right wing player and will be counted on again for his veteran leadership. He is physical and will throw his weight around. He is also extremely durable and is an excellent two-way player.
Mikkel Boedker can play either wing position effectively. He is considered one of the fastest players in the game, and he will need to use that speed to create confusion for the opposing team when he is on the ice. This could be a breakout season for Boedker.
Goalie Mike Smith can be a superior goaltender due to his great puck-handling skills and his huge frame, which helps him cover up a lot of net. He handles the puck very well and helps his defense clear the zone quickly. He will be counted on to have another tremendous year like he did 2 years ago.
The Coyotes did add a quality free agent in Mike Ribeiro, a good center who could challenge to be a first line player for this team. He has played for the Dallas Stars and last year he was with the Washington Capitals. Although he had only13 goals in 48 games last season, more than half of his 49 points came on the power play
Head coach Dave Tippett always seems to get the most out of his players. Despite the financial issues, he was able to get the Coyotes to the playoffs in three straight years before the club finished 10th in the Western Conference last year.
The new Pacific Division will be a tough one. It has all the teams from the old Pacific Division, but adds one additional team. The Vancouver Canucks, who were added to the division, look to be a playoff team. The Coyotes will be in contention all year and should get one of the playoff spots; and as you know, in hockey, all you need is to get a playoff spot and anything can happen.
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