Coyotes the NHL story of 2009-10

MIKE ZEISBERGER,, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

With less than two weeks to go in the NHL’s regular season, let’s look back at the good, the bad and the ugly of the 2009-10 campaign:

Top stories

1. PHOENIX COYOTES: Dave Tippett and his players have done a amazing job of putting all those gloom-and-doom off-ice rumours aside en route to a playoff berth. Easily the best Cinderella tale in the league in years.

2. HEAD SHOTS: Tired of hearing about this issue? Talk to the concussed Marc Savard and you’ll change your tune.

3. NHLPA SOAP OPERA: Is Donald Fehr the answer? Whatever the case, the union needs to get its house in order for the good of the game.

Top goals

1. SIDNEY CROSBY’S GOLDEN GOAL (Feb. 28, at Vancouver): No, it’s not the NHL. But we’ll make an exception, since the entire hockey world watched Sid The Kid’s historic overtime goal against the U.S. to give Canada Olympic gold.

2. OVIE FLIPS OUT (Feb. 4, at New York): After putting the puck through a defenceman’s legs, Alexander Ovechkin, with just one hand on his stick, scooped the puck into the top corner past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. He’s better with one hand than many other players are with two.

3. SPEZZA COAST-TO-COAST (March 13, at Vancouver): In a play reminiscent of Thursday night shinny, Ottawa’s Jason Spezza flew end-to-end through the entire Canucks team. Cue the highlight reel.

Milestone men

MARTIN BRODEUR (Goaltender, Devils): By blanking the Penguins 4-0 on Dec. 21 he became the NHL’s career shutout leader with 104, eclipsing the previous mark held by Terry Sawchuk.

TEEMU SELANNE (Forward, Ducks): After scoring his 600th career NHL goal earlier this month, the debate begins: Who is the best Finnish NHLer of all time, Selanne or Jari Kurri?

Super sophs

Knowing what you do now, if you had the No. 1 selection in the 2008 entry draft, would you have picked Steven Stamkos or Drew Doughty?

Either way, you would be getting a player who, by his second season in the NHL, is on the verge of superstardom, if not there already.

In his past 114 games, Stamkos has 64 goals and 54 assists for 118 points for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Doughty, meanwhile, is a legitimate candidate for the Norris Trophy with 54 points and was one of Canada’s top Olympic blueliners.

Going, going, gone?

KERRY FRASER (Referee): With the well-groomed Fraser set to hang up the blades, Doug Gilmour wants bitter Leafs fans to finally forgive the veteran zebra for missing Wayne Gretzky’s high stick on him during the 1993 playoff series between the Leafs and Kings. Given the flood of anti-Fraser emails we received Sunday in response to Gilmour’s comments, it doesn’t appear as if that is going to happen.

BILL McCREARY (Referee): Sporting one of the most famous moustaches in hockey, he plans on retiring at the end of the season. Some figure the league will try to convince him to stick around for another year.

CHRIS CHELIOS (Defenceman, Thrashers): Told a friend last week that “this is it.” He has changed his mind before, however, A remarkable physical specimen at age 48.

MARK RECCHI (Forward, Bruins): Having turned 42 on Feb. 1, he still hasn’t decided if he will retire this summer.

Scary swing

When Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk scored against the Panthers on Nov. 30, frustrated Florida defenceman Keith Ballard swung his stick like an axe, trying to snap it over the crossbar. Instead he connected with the head of his own goalie, Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun was carried off the ice on a stretcher, and fortunately returned to action in a week. One of the scariest youtube moments of the NHL season.

Light fright

During a Jan. 10 game at Vancouver’s GM Place, the Calgary Flames claimed some clown in the stands was shining a laser beam at visiting goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. Livid Flames coach Brent Sutter could not understand how arena security officials allowed such an act to go on. “It’s ridiculous,” Sutter said. “We could see it shining on his mask the whole night.”

Alberta blues

At one point in January, Alberta’s two NHL teams combined for an 0-22 skid — Edmonton 0-13, Calgary 0-9. Talk about a lousy month.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca


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