Countdown To Coyotes Preseason: 47 Days

APR 7, 2012; St. Paul, MN, USA; Pheonix Coyotes forward Taylor Pyatt (14) attampts a wrap around shot in the second period against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-US PRESSWIRE

Continuing on with the Countdown to Coyotes Preseason being 47 days away, the blog will look at that number a little differently, as a date "4/7" or April 7th, which marked the first time in franchise history (dating back to their days in the frozen tundra of Winnipeg) the team captured a division title. It should be a day Yotes fans will remember for dozens and dozens of years. DOZENS!!!!

April 7th was one of those Arizona days that makes the eight months of excessive heat warnings tolerable, with a daytime temperature that hovered around 75o, and not a cloud in the sky.

It was also the day the Phoenix Coyotes played the most important game in franchise history; albeit 1500 miles away from that beautiful, Phoenician weather.

Saturday morning, before their game in Minnesota, the NHL standings looked like this:

1

PHOENIX

81

41

27

13

95

2

LOS ANGELES

81

40

27

14

94

3

SAN JOSE

81

42

29

10

94

With San Jose playing LA in each team’s regular season finale and a playoff spot already locked up, a Coyotes victory was the only way to keep the team away from the bottom two seeds of the Western Conference Playoffs (which apparently wasn’t that bad of a spot, huh LA?).

By defeating the 2nd seeded St. Louis Blues 4-1 the previous night, the Yotes took a critical step toward their first division title.

Now they had to ride that momentum into the Twin Cities, where the Wild had won 5 of their last 6 games. Fortunately for the Coyotes, the last time they were in Minnesota, they left with two points while ringing in the New Year.

The end result would be almost identical on the scoreboard as the Yotes beat the Wild 4-1 (they beat them 4-2 on December 31st) with Taylor Pyatt providing two goals and goaltender Mike Smith stopping 23 shots.

Mikkel Boedker kicked off the scoring with a shot just inside the circle that beat Niklas Backstrom glove high. Pyatt would score his goals at the end of the first and second periods respectively, with Michal Rosival assisting on each.

Radim Vrbata also joined in the scoring by sniping his 35th of the season, the most goals by a Phoenix Coyote since Keith Tk-CHUNK scored 36 in 1999, to put the Yotes up 4-1, securing the victory.

It didn’t matter anymore how the LA/SJ game turned out. The Coyotes went into the locker room knowing where they stood.

With the win, the Yotes increased to 97 points and would not be caught by either California team, clinching their first-ever Division Championship.

As the team charter touched back down in Phoenix, this was there waiting for them.

They deserved it. Every last second of that glory and fame, they deserved and anyone who says otherwise does not understand the meaning of hard work and determination. Or as we in the Valley call it, "Coyotes Hockey".

Tyson Nash said it best: The team "tenderized the meat" all season and they did it while listening to the endless rumors of where they would be playing next year.

But the Coyotes didn’t care where they were playing next season; they cared about where they were this season.

In Phoenix.

Defying the odds.

And winning a division title!

April 7th will go down as one of the most memorable dates in Phoenix Coyotes history as it wasn’t just an end to another season of successful uncertainty.

It was the start of a magical playoff run that many dedicated Coyotes fans (yes, there are plenty of those in the Valley) had waited over 15 years for. A chance to see the team succeed in the playoffs.

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