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AP: 1a4988ad-1c39-449d-ba3d-d833af917a39
Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Smith (41) makes a diving save on a shot by Tampa Bay Lightning's Martin St. Louis (26) in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. The Coyotes won 6-3. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
If the NHL's regular season ended today, the Phoenix Coyotes would be in the playoffs.

The team has earned 31 points by way of a 14-4-3 record, a number that is good enough for fourth-best in the Western Conference and would be tops in the East.

They've been good -- very good -- and may have yet to even play their best hockey.

However, while ESPN's Scott Burnside has the Desert Dogs second in his NHL power poll, his colleague Sean McIndoe at Grantland.com is still not a believer.

In his "First-Quarter NHL Report Card," the Coyotes are listed in the "Bottom-Feeder" group, though he acknowledges he was "super-wrong" about them.

As big a surprise as the Avalanche have been, the Coyotes may be an even bigger one. They've very quietly slipped into the league's top five, thanks largely to a 9-0-1 record at home. There's some evidence their success may be a bit of an illusion, like a scary 47.8 percent Fenwick Close and a plus-7 goals differential that's merely OK. But for now, long-suffering Coyotes fans can agree this is clearly a team on the move! (Oh … sorry, guys. Poor choice of words.)

McIndoe admitted his idea that the Coyotes would struggle to score this season may have been a bit off base, as the Coyotes are currently third in the NHL in goals scored and are averaging 3.29 goals per game, which is good enough for fourth in the league.

But before you think this is McIndoe's mea culpa and that he's ready to admit the Coyotes are for real, think again. As part of his "three predictions for the rest of the way," he writes that "The Coyotes and Avalanche both miss the playoffs."

Doubling down can be a dicey proposition, especially when you're sitting on a 15. Is that essentially what McIndoe is doing, essentially refusing to acknowledge what's directly in front of him in hopes of things turning out the way he originally wanted it to be?

We'll find out.

Adam Green, Web Content Editor - ArizonaSports.com

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