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Top 2012: Remembering the Coyotes’ improbable playoff run

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:

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.

While Smith out-dueled Rinne, the Coyotes admittedly capitalized on all the distractions caused by the Nashville Predators suspending Alex Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn during the series.

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A painful ending

Even though Smith continued to play wellenough to break a record – the Coyotes eventually met their match against the Los Angeles Kings.

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:

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Just moments later, Dustin Penner ended the Coyotes’ longest playoff run ever with an overtime game-winner.

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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.

  1. sampulls - Dec 25, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    All I remember is what a bunch of crybabies they were after they lost. Doan leading that pack.

  2. blomfeld - Dec 25, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    What’s Up With Smith ?

    I wish the Coyotes nothing but the “best” down there in the land of scorpions and 100 degree temperatures. However I have to say that I find something “unwholesome” with this picture above of goaltender Mike Smith ? What’s he doing there, having a “Bangles” moment or something? Perhaps one of the Yote’s faithful could be kind enough to elucidate for us? … thanks, Blomfeld … a concerned fan

  3. darksidecowboy - Dec 26, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Hate all you want, but the desert dogs showed that even with no ownership, payroll, and “elite” goaltender they got to the western conference finals. It was an amazing season for a fan that never sniffs the second round of the playoffs. If this ownership fiasco ever gets settled and they finally get some payroll, with Tippett and GM Maloney, they will continue to piss off fans of other teams come playoffs. I’m talking to you Chicago.

  4. jhuck92 - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Mike Smith flopped from a glancing blow. Torres turned the series around by knocking out Hossa and ending his season. Then Rozsival’s knee gets a borderline hit by the Kings and the Coyotes have the gall to complain that THEY got treated unfairly? They got what they deserved. And they’re damn lucky Shane Doan stayed with the club.

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