In order to be considered a legitimate playoff contender, the Coyotes need to defend their den and win the majority of their remaining home games.
The incredible success that the Coyotes have had on the road thus far this season sits in stark contrast to the relatively disappointing home record they’ve managed at Gila River Arena thus far. Incredibly enough, the ‘Yotes have won only 7 games at home in front of frustrated crowds through the first two months of the season.
From a fan’s perspective, it would seem that winning games and stacking points on the road while traveling constantly and playing in hostile environments would be much more difficult than playing at home in the friendly confines of Gila River Arena and beating opponents before a supportive crowd. Oddly enough, it hasn’t worked out that way.
If the Coyotes intend to participate in the NHL playoffs, their success at home is going to have to improve. We know that makes sense, but how? It would be nice for visiting teams to be so reluctant to play before rowdy crowds at GRA that the Coyotes have an automatic advantage. The fans, however, don’t have enough influence by themselves to affect the play on the ice.
So is it a mental thing with the Coyotes? Is it a matter of the ‘Yotes needing to engage in some sort of “enhanced” focus in trying to offset the distractions that may impact the performances of the team while at home enjoying family and loved ones? Has there been a false sense of security playing at home that hasn’t reaped the expected benefits?
In the next week the Coyotes play at home against the Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, and the New Jersey Devils. You can bet that the Blackhawks will be seeking revenge for the Coyotes well-deserved “theft” of the win in the shootout in Chicago on Sunday evening! Following a brief road trip, the Coyotes return home to play the Minnesota Wild. The Wild, you may remember, beat us at home on November 9 right after the Columbus Blue Jackets did the same on November 7. Let’s bury those memories for good, shall we?
There are really no bad teams in the NHL; these men represent the best 900 hockey players on the planet. Thus, there are only teams that are weaker than the others at this point in time, and all teams go through ebbs and flows during the highly-physical and lengthy season to compete for the coveted Stanley Cup. No game on the schedule, therefore, is a “gimme.”
Fan bases are limited in what they can do to encourage positive winning play from their local heroes. Hopefully the Arizona Coyotes can muster the “right stuff” and figure out how to be successful at home and “protect the house.” The desert dogs have the ability to do it because we’ve seen it. They also have the mental fortitude to accomplish it because we’ve recently witnessed it.
Let’s make a habit out of winning at home beginning Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. Let’s go Coyotes!