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A POSITIVE START TO THE SEASON IS IN THE BOOKS

Monday, 01.26.2009 / 1:30 PM / Features
By Russell Brooks
The first portion of the 2008-09 season featured a lot of ups and a few downs for the Coyotes, who entered the NHL All-Star break in the fifth spot in the Western Conference standings.

With seven fresh faces in the lineup, the Coyotes started the season with victories over the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Anaheim Ducks.

Phoenix finished October with a 4-4-0 record, winning three of its four games at Jobing.com Arena including a victory over Stanley Cup runner-up Pittsburgh.

November started well for the Coyotes with wins in four of their first six games, including wins over the Calgary Flames and Western Conference-leading San Jose.

“I think it shows on any given night, we can play on the top level,” center Olli Jokinen said after the 4-2 victory against San Jose. “We can beat good teams. It’s a good confidence booster.”

From there, the Coyotes were winless in their next six games before winning four of the following five. After losses to St. Louis and Chicago, the Coyotes rattled off points in their next six games and finished December with an 8-4-3 record.

The Coyotes began 2009 with wins in five of their first eight games including victories in three of their last four games headed into the All-Star break.

In the first portion of the season, many Coyotes reached milestones:
• Captain Shane Doan and defenseman Ken Klee played in their 900th games.
• Defenseman Ed Jovanovski notched his 400th point.
• Center Steven Reinprecht notched his 300th point and 200th assist.
• Kevin Porter, Viktor Tikhonov and Mikkel Boedker all made their NHL debuts while collecting their first goals.
• Defenseman David Hale broke a scoring slump that extended 230 games with his first career NHL goal and notched his second marker just 13 games later.

“It felt great,” said Hale, after scoring his first goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 26. “... It was great to feel like I contributed.”


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