Arizona Coyotes Opening Road Trip An Immediate Challenge
The Arizona Coyotes quickly face a marathon road trip to the East Coast once the 2016-17 season kicks off. How the team responds to the challenge could have a big impact on the tone of the season.
The Arizona Coyotes open the season at home against the Philadelphia Flyers on October 15th. They then turn around and board a plane to the East Coast for a marathon six games against Atlantic and Metropolitan Division opponents.
There’s a full two weeks between opening night at Gila River Arena and their second home game.
It’s the longest road trip of the entire season.
How the Arizona Coyotes players handle nearly two weeks on the road after playing just one regular season game together will be crucial to how the team starts off the year.
Long road trips did not yield promising results last season, and chances are this year it will be even tougher, with a younger pool of talent and fewer veterans to show the way.
Leadership from veterans such as Captain Shane Doan , Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and the others will be essential to keeping this group of youngsters focused on the task at hand.
If the Arizona Coyotes pull off one last trade or two before training camp begins, there could be another veteran leader to help the team navigate the tough time on the road.
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Although recent reports say that defenseman Michael Stone is doing well with his knee rehab, his availability for this road trip will be questionable.
Until he can get back on the ice and show Head Coach Dave Tippett how far along he is, someone else may be needed to step up on defense.
There are a few items to help us look at the bright side, however.
For one, after swinging through Canada for games against the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens, the Arizona Coyotes fly into New York and face three teams located within a few miles of each other.
Consecutive games against the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, and the New Jersey Devils allow for the Arizona Coyotes to avoid travel. They can take in some New York sightseeing, eat some great food, and perhaps keep their energy up so they can notch some road wins.
A brief bus-ride down the I-95 corridor for a final road game in Philadelphia against the Flyers caps off the trip.
Plus, even though all six of these teams were .500 or better last season, only three were playoff teams with just one emerging out of the first round.
With no powerhouses or division rivals in the six-game stint, the opening road trip against a group of relatively under-performing teams could be a blessing in disguise.
If the Arizona Coyotes the veterans can lead the way and the team can weather the early storm, the Yotes could return home for their October 29th game against the Colorado Avalanche with a winning record and some healthy confidence.