Coyotes, not so ugly
Phoenix and Wayne Gretzky certainly deserve some credit.
Ten games into the season, it hasn't gotten ugly. Despite having the least experienced roster in the NHL, there haven't been any blowouts — the team's worst defeat so far was a 5-2 loss to Detroit a week ago Saturday — and they're a respectable 4-6-0.
That may not sound like much, but it's been six years since Phoenix was able to grab its fourth win in its first 10 games.
Scoring goals has been a problem, and that's not a surprise, but the goaltending's been decent and so has the defence. Phoenix is in the top 10 in shots on goal and middle of the pack in shots against. They've outshot their opposition in six games.
No one expected anything out of this team this season. (I predicted they'd struggle to hit the 20-win mark.)
No, the Desert Dogs aren't world beaters, and no, they're not going to make the playoffs, but this team of nobodies and castoffs is playing hard every night, and the few fans left in Arizona are starting to take notice.
Tuesday night, they walked into St. Louis and beat a team that had 6-3-0 record coming in.
My guess is Phoenix hangs tough with the bottom half of the Western Conference the next few months, earns Gretzky a few pats on the back even while they slide out of contention. Then, Don Maloney pulls the bottom out by trading away the club's few veterans in January and February, and the team loses out to end the year, putting them in prime draft position in what's supposed to be a pretty deep year.
And after that?
All eyes on John Tavares in 2009.