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The Desert Dog Blog: Coyotes 'Kicked the Door Down' to the Playoffs

Sunday, 04.08.2012 / 6:17 PM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
GLENDALE -- Coyotes G.M. Don Maloney is proud of the Coyotes for winning the first division title in franchise history, but at the same time he notes the team still has much, much bigger fish to fry.

Don Maloney
The Coyotes, who have never advanced beyond the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs since moving to Phoenix from Winnipeg in 1996, will play the Chicago Blackhawks in a Western Conference quarterfinal series that begins Thursday at Jobing.com Arena. Click here for full schedule.

The Coyotes claimed the Pacific Division title by beating Minnesota, 4-1, on Saturday. It was Phoenix’s fifth consecutive win to end the regular season.

“I’m pleased,” Maloney told me on Sunday. “What I liked the most about it is we didn’t go into the playoffs through the back door. We kicked the door down. We won the division on our own right with a combination of great goaltending and great coaching and everybody contributing. That pleases me as much as anything. We grabbed a hold of the challenge and jumped ahead of some very good teams to win the division.”

Maloney said playing Chicago in the first round will be challenging.

“This series will have an interesting dynamic,” he said. “They have high-end skill and they’ll want to play a wide-open, track-meet type of game. The strength of our group is to shut teams down, so we’ll want to get a lead. If we can get ahead of people we’re a very good team. If we have to chase a team, that’s where the challenges start.”

• Coyotes captain Shane Doan stopped by the Ice Den in Scottsdale on his way to church on Easter Sunday to do an impromptu press conference.

Shane Doan
The presser was unique in that the Ice Den and the surrounding buildings were closed for the holiday, so Doan, sporting the start of his playoff beard, fielded questions outside in the toasty Arizona weather.

Doan said he and his teammates are excited they won the Pacific Division title and that they have home-ice advantage to start the playoffs.

“Playing Chicago is going to be tough,” Doan said. “You look at their forwards and the depth that they have up front … all the guys that they have have experience and have been in the playoffs for a while so we’re going to have to make sure we play our best game.”

Click here to watch the entire press conference.


• Coyotes fans greeted the team upon its arrival from Minnesota at Sky Harbor Airport early this morning. There are several videos of this gathering circulating on the Internet. I recommend this one shot by FOX Sports Arizona producer Graham Taylor. The best part is Doan giving high-fives to the fans as he drives away from the airport.

By the way, if you were at the airport for this event and took some photos, please e-mail your best one to me at thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com for a photo gallery.

• FYI, all Coyotes practices during the Stanley Cup Playoffs - regardless of site - are closed to the public.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Contact Dave Vest at thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.
 
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