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DDB: Coyotes ‘kicked down the door’ to the playoffs

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Visit phoenixcoyotes.com 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. 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.
For information on upcoming Phoenix Coyotes games, please
visit http://coyotes.nhl.com