Dec 25, 2012, 8:00 PM EDT
The Phoenix Coyotes have managed to shake off serious financial worries while succeeding on the ice ever since Dave Tippett took over behind the bench in 2009, but the 2011-12 season represented their most improbable run yet.
Instead of sliding after Ilya Bryzgalov took his tiger-fearing act to Philly, the Coyotes advanced beyond the first round for the first time since they moved to Phoenix and made the franchise’s first conference finals appearance.
Let’s take a look back at some of the standout moments from that surprising run.
Hits and ‘Hawks
Phoenix began its run by dispatching the Chicago Blackhawks in a six-game series that will be remembered for a few major storylines:
- Mike Smith grossly outplaying Corey Crawford.
- Raffi Torres‘ controversial hit on Marian Hossa, which prompted what was initially a 25-game suspension.
- The Coyotes won in six games, but it was a thrilling series rife with last-minute comebacks.
Prevailing against Predators
Smith went up against Pekka Rinne – aka the goalie who will carry the league’s highest cap hit – and played so well in that five-game series that even Rinne raved about someone who could be Canada’s next Olympic netminder.
A painful ending
The series ended in a stunning turn of events in overtime of Game 5. First, Dustin Brown delivered a controversial knee-to-knee hit on Michal Rozsival, angering the ‘Yotes enough to make the handshake line awkward.
Jeremy Roenick and Mike Milbury didn’t pull punches in debating that check, as you can see:
Just moments later, Dustin Penner ended the Coyotes’ longest playoff run ever with an overtime game-winner.
Even with a finish that likely left a sour taste in the Coyotes’ mouths, the playoffs were still a smash success for the struggling franchise. The team even became a front page story – and it wasn’t because of their money troubles, for once.
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- Report: NHLPA director Fehr wants to address issue of fighting 65
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- Official: Canucks fire head coach Vigneault, assistants Bowness and Brown 32
- Question for commenters: What, if anything, needs to be done about the officiating? 99
- Playoffs Tonight: Senators confident they can beat Penguins 38
- Video: Kings denied a goal after quick whistle 29
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