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Dog days in summer?

Shane Doan has scored nine points in his past four games – all wins for the Coyotes.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Shane Doan has scored nine points in his past four games – all wins for the Coyotes. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Shane Doan looks ready to lead the committee.

That the Phoenix Coyotes woke up Monday morning as the Western Conference’s fourth seed is surprising enough, but it’s all the more eye-catching when you consider this team hasn’t really had an offensive leader all season.

A strong team game supported by the goaltending of Ilya Bryzgalov is the formula Phoenix employed to engineer its out-of-the-blue – but, of course, not out of the red – stellar season.

But sooner or later you need some goals and Doan is getting back to his productive old self, with five goals and 15 points in his past eight contests. The output is especially welcome in light of the fact leading goal-scorer Scottie Upshall is out indefinitely with a torn ACL.

Doan, long known as one of the best leaders in the league, is digging in when his team needs it most. And that’s given more bite to a pack of pluggers who’ve already gone way beyond where anyone expected they would.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
L10
THE SCOOP
1
Washington Capitals
2
37-12-6
10-0-0
Ten-game winning streak ties a franchise record
2
San Jose Sharks
1
36-10-9
8-0-2
Play six straight road contests heading into the Olympic break
3
Vancouver Canucks
5
34-18-2
7-2-1
Mason Raymond could hit 30 goals this year
4
Chicago Blackhawks
4
37-14-4
6-4-0
Finished an eight-game road trip with five wins
5
Los Angeles Kings
9
33-19-3
8-2-0
Have won six straight, including sweeping a five-game road swing
6
Buffalo Sabres
7
32-14-7
4-3-3
Ryan Miller continues to stand on his head, going 2-0 with a 0.96 GAA and .972 save percentage in his past two outings
7
Ottawa Senators
10
31-21-4
9-1-0
After posting just 19 points in 30 games prior to his knee injury, Jason Spezza has a point in each of the four games he's played since returning
8
Phoenix Coyotes
11
33-18-5
7-3-0
Leading goal-scorer Scottie Upshall is gone indefinitely with a torn ACL
9
Pittsburgh Penguins
6
34-21-1
6-4-0
Defending champs are lying in the weeds, but we can still see their flippers
10
Colorado Avalanche
3
30-18-6
6-4-0
Matt Duchene is in the thick of the Calder race, putting up nine points over his past nine games
11
New Jersey Devils
8
35-17-2
3-6-1
We haven't seen the Devils in top form since the calendar flipped to 2010
12
Philadelphia Flyers
14
27-23-3
6-4-0
Even with its struggles, this team will still have a top-four East seed disappointed with its first round playoff draw
13
Dallas Stars
15
24-20-11
5-5-0
Given a chance to secure the No. 1 job, Alex Auld has struggled with an .877 save percentage over his past four games
14
Nashville Predators
12
30-21-3
4-6-0
Tough call on whether to keep Dan Ellis or Pekka Rinne at season's end; both are UFAs and neither is getting wins right now
15
Detroit Red Wings
16
26-19-10
3-3-4
Nicklas Lidstrom seems to have rediscovered his offensive touch, putting up six points in his past four games
16
Calgary Flames
18
27-20-8
1-6-3
Flames are hoping the massive roster shakeup will put a terrible January (4-8-3) behind them
17
Florida Panthers
23
24-22-9
6-2-2
Great to see David Booth back – and picking up an assist – after missing 45 games with a concussion
18
Atlanta Thrashers
26
24-22-8
5-3-2
Will big trades over the weekend trigger some action on the Ilya Kovalchuk front?
19
Anaheim Ducks
13
25-23-7
6-4-0
It's Jonas Hiller's team now after he signed a four-year extension and the Ducks shipped J-S Giguere to Toronto
20
Tampa Bay Lightning
25
22-21-11
5-4-1
Followed its first three-game winning streak of the season with consecutive setbacks
21
Minnesota Wild
21
27-24-4
5-4-1
After a quick start with his new team, Guillaume Latendresse has cooled, putting up just two points in his past six games
22
Montreal Canadiens
17
25-25-6
3-4-3
Were in tough to make the playoffs before leading goal-scorer Mike Cammalleri took this painful spill on Saturday
23
Carolina Hurricanes
28
19-28-7
6-4-0
Have won four straight thanks to some all-world play from Cam Ward
24
New York Rangers
20
25-24-7
3-7-0
If Marian Gaborik gets a hat trick, the Rangers win
25
St. Louis Blues
24
24-22-9
5-3-2
Alex Steen has become a dependable two-way player
26
Columbus Blue Jackets
27
22-26-9
4-6-0
Rick Nash and R.J. Umberger have stepped up their games, scoring a combined 17 points in their past eight games
27
Boston Bruins
22
23-21-9
1-7-2
One 'W' in their past 11 – and that required a shootout
28
New York Islanders
19
23-25-8
4-6-0
With just one victory over their past seven, the Isles could be on the verge of a major downward spiral
29
Toronto Maple Leafs
29
17-28-11
2-6-2
If a change is as good as a rest, the Leafs should be one fresh squad
30
Edmonton Oilers
30
16-31-6
0-9-1
The way things are going, you know this team is going to lose the lottery

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

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