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Pack mentality

Ryan Dixon
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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) Author: The Hockey News

News

Pack mentality

Ryan Dixon
By:

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.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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Pack mentality