If you, like me, have been watching any of the NHL preview shows on NHL Network, TSN, Espn (Do they even show hockey?) and reading season previews from any hockey sites around the interwebs then you know one very important thing about the Coyotes. Is it that they have an outstanding goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov? Some people note that. Is it that they brought in some better offensive players or that they have some talented young guys that are ready to play? Nope. One thing almost every analysis of this team has to say is: "The Coyotes won't sneak up on anyone this year."
What kind of crap is that? The Coyotes are a freakin professional hockey team! Two points count for and against them just like anyone else. Are two points that say San Jose gets against the team any more or less valuable than two points they get from anyone else? No. No they aren't. After the first say, two weeks of last season when they were winning games, shutout the Penguins, and generally seemed to not be feeling any effects from the off ice issues, do you think anyone was really taking us lightly? If they were guess what? They were morons.
In TSN and CBC intermission shows and the like they were waiting for them to fall apart all the way into the last 3rd of the season, expecting some sort of let down. It didn't happen. Were players in opposing locker rooms expecting it late in the season? I doubt it. Again if they were they were morons. Not only that but they cost their team valuable points. Did players try any less to score goals? Really? Sidney Crosby took a breather because it's the Coyotes? Patrick Marleau just didn't want to try more than say 75% because we weren't supposed to be good? Did Alain Vigneault just not make a game plan because it was "just the Coyotes?" I doubt it very much.
In general I don't get the feeling that the players or coaching staffs of any NHL team takes games that matter lightly at all. In fact I know that any head coach that thought his team was going easy on another team or not putting in all their effort would be livid. Sure, teams take a night off now and then late in the season against a 14 or 15th place team in the conference. You might put in the backup goalie. The Coyotes have seen that plenty over the past seasons. But last year? It didn't happen much. Teams were gunning for the Coyotes. If you want to say that some teams took them lightly really early in the season, fine. But how many points does that translate into? Not many.
Basically what I'm saying is this .If you're an NHL player or team, and If, you took the Coyotes or any team lightly and didn't do you best to win? Go sell life insurance or something because it seems you don't want to compete.
And commentators, you keep using this cliche because it's easy. It's easier than saying "The Coyotes really showed up a lot of good teams last year." Why? Because 98% of you said the Coyotes would suck. Stop using it as a cop out that "Wow, that was surprising, who could have called that halfway through the season?" The fact of the matter is this. The Coyotes no longer suck. No matter how convenient that would be for people that aren't fans of the team or market. They have good goaltending, developed talent, great on ice leadership and now a coaching staff that knows what the hell they're doing. The Coyotes aren't and weren't a surprise, they're just plain good.