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Pack mentality

Pick by most to miss the playoff this season, the Phoenix Coyotes are tied for top spot in the Western Conference with 97 points. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Pick by most to miss the playoff this season, the Phoenix Coyotes are tied for top spot in the Western Conference with 97 points. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It’s come to this.

The Hockey News picked the Phoenix Coyotes to finish 15th in the Western Conference, but we’re certain any excess egg on our face could quickly find a home elsewhere thanks to the Coyotes’ shocking rise to first place in the Pacific Division.

Their nine-game winning streak also has them atop this week’s Power Rankings.

Better late than never.

Phoenix’s leading scorer, Wojtek Wolski, is on pace for a whopping 60 points and has played just nine games with the team. Adrian Aucoin is 5-for-5 in the shootout with five game-deciding goals. Ilya Bryzgalov could end up the league leader in both wins and shutouts. If the team wins Tuesday in Chicago, it will have set a new record for consecutive victories with 10.

There’s a lot of numbers to mull in there, but what all those digits add up to is some new language – as in it might be time to consider changing the hardware handed out for coach of the year from the Jack Adams Award to the Dave Tippett Trophy.

What a season in the desert.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
L10
THE SCOOP
1
Phoenix Coyotes
3
46-22-5
9-1-0
So what if five wins on their current nine-game victory stretch came via shootout; this is just one awesome story
2
Washington Capitals
1
48-14-10
7-1-2
Cruising toward first Presidents' Trophy in franchise history
3
Vancouver Canucks
2
44-24-4
6-2-2
Becoming a fashionable playoff pick in the West thanks to the fact they don't have a throbbing tragic flaw like other "contenders.
4
Nashville Predators
11
42-26-5
7-3-0
Pekka Rinne grabs goalie reins with three shutouts on Preds' current six-game winning streak
5
Pittsburgh Penguins
5
42-24-6
6-2-2
Max Talbot, last year's Game 7 hero in the Cup final, has felt the sting of being a healthy scratch lately
6
Detroit Red Wings
10
35-23-13
7-2-1
Seven of remaining 11 games are at home and Detroit only plays five games against teams that currently hold playoff positions
7
Chicago Blackhawks
6
45-19-7
4-4-2
Brent Seabrook has practised with the Hawks, but it's unclear when he'll return after being on the receiving end of a dirty hit that landed Anaheim's James Wisniewski an eight-game suspension
8
Buffalo Sabres
13
39-22-10
6-3-1
Taking seven of 10 points on a five-game road trip indicates Buffalo is getting it back together
9
San Jose Sharks
4
43-19-10
3-6-1
Maybe they're just getting the losses out of their system before the playoffs this year
10
New Jersey Devils
9
42-25-4
5-4-1
Are they lurking in the weeds or headed toward another early playoff flame out?
11
Los Angeles Kings
7
41-24-5
5-4-1
Kings are still trying to figure out where deadline acquisition Jeff Halpern fits in
12
Colorado Avalanche
8
40-25-6
5-5-0
Have three games left versus Los Angeles, the team directly ahead of them for sixth place in the West
13
Montreal Canadiens
14
36-29-7
7-2-1
Leading goal-scorer Mike Cammalleri will return to the lineup this week after being out since late January with a knee injury
14
Calgary Flames
12
36-27-9
6-4-0
Daymond Langkow was said to be in good shape in a Minnesota hospital after taking a puck in the back of the neck during Sunday's loss to the Wild
15
Philadelphia Flyers
15
37-30-5
4-4-2
Increasingly tenuous post-season hopes rest on Brian Boucher's shoulders now
16
Boston Bruins
18
32-27-12
5-4-1
After posting 73 points last year, David Krejci is on pace for 46 this season
17
St. Louis Blues
17
34-29-9
6-4-0
Allowing two late goals in Sunday's loss to the Preds was likely the final nail in the Blues' coffin
18
Atlanta Thrashers
29
32-29-11
4-5-1
Back-to-back wins over Philly – and four victories in a row – put Thrashers right back in the playoff hunt
19
Ottawa Senators
16
37-30-5
2-7-1
Alex Kovalev has exactly zero points in nine post-Olympic Games after not playing for Russia
20
Anaheim Ducks
26
34-29-8
5-4-1
Few guys in the league are easier to like than Teemu Selanne, who popped career goal No. 600 on the weekend
21
Minnesota Wild
22
35-31-6
4-4-2
Niklas Backstrom's groin injury opened the door for Josh Harding to prove he deserves a new contract this summer as an RFA
22
New York Rangers
19
31-32-9
3-5-2
Looking more and more like they'll miss the playoffs for the first time since Henrik Lundqvist became a Ranger
23
Dallas Stars
24
31-27-14
3-5-2
Stars entered the season 32-14 all-time in shootouts, but are 5-10 this year
24
Carolina Hurricanes
20
30-34-8
5-4-1
Jamie McBain, 22, starts life as an NHL blueliner with points in his first four games, including an OT-winner
25
Toronto Maple Leafs
27
26-34-12
7-2-1
At some point this season, Nikolai Kulemin decided he wanted to be a quality NHLer and he's well on his way to achieving that
26
Columbus Blue Jackets
25
29-31-12
4-3-3
Saturday's loss to the Preds marked the 14th straight setback in Nashville for the Jackets, dating back to April 2006
27
Florida Panthers
21
29-31-11
5-4-1
Banger Byron Bitz has two points in four games as a Panther
28
New York Islanders
28
29-33-10
4-4-2
Little late-season rattle from John Tavares, who has three goals and seven points in his past three games
29
Tampa Bay Lightning
23
28-32-12
2-7-1
Will miss the playoffs thanks to the fact they've won twice in their past 14 outings
30
Edmonton Oilers
30
23-42-7
4-5-1
Pounding San Jose 5-1 Sunday night had to be one of the highlights of a lost season

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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