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Phoenix Coyotes embracing underdog status

If a team rides near the top of the conference all season long, overcoming all expectations and even coming close to competing for the top seed in the conference, generally they don’t enter the playoffs as underdogs. For the Phoenix Coyotes, who seemingly against all odds are headed to the playoffs with home-ice in the first round, that’s the reality as they prepare to face the Detroit Red Wings.

It’s the franchise’s first playoffs appearance since 2002; the Red Wings are the most successful franchise in the NHL in the past 20 years.

Hence, the Coyotes will be considered underdogs, and already I’m seeing a number of predictions that have the Red Wings taking them out in the first round. That’s just fine with them, says coach Dave Tippett:

“That’s who we’ve been all year,” he said. “From the first day I got here, people looked around like ‘What are you doing?’ That’s how we’ve been able to thrive all year, so why would it change now?”

The Coyotes are embracing their underdog status, saying as a group they’re as good as any team in the NHL.

What’s interesting is that the Red Wings are the favorites based on a solid pedigree yet the Coyotes have by far had the best season between the two. But the Wings are hot, have a hot goaltender and are healthy; it’s tough to pick against them.

The Coyotes have been an incredibly successful team, turning things around in just one season, but it seems that no one is taking them as serious contenders. Taking out the Red Wings and moving on to the second round -- well, that will certainly turn some heads.