The Arizona Coyotes basically stood pat at the trade deadline and have chosen to gamble on their playoff hunt fortunes by depending on their incumbents.
The Arizona Coyotes have chosen to trudge toward the playoffs by betting that their current roster is good enough to reach the promised land.
With 17 games remaining, beginning with tonight’s contest against the Florida Panthers at GRA, the Desert Dogs will be closely watching the results of other “games in hand” until they play the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. All well and good mind you, since they really don’t have a choice and can use the time to rest and to practice. But what can we expect to see when the Coyotes get back to work in March?
Management thinks that the playoffs are attainable if the ‘Yotes continue to play top-notch hockey through the month of March, but can John Chayka’s team maintain the consistency needed to secure a wild card spot? Is the best predictor of future behavior indeed past behavior? If so, the Coyotes may be in trouble.
It’s true that recent play by Clayton Keller is an encouraging sign for the Coyotes, especially when combined with the stellar play of Conor Garland and Taylor Hall. But others, including some who have basically seemed invisible on offense, need to contribute more by scoring goals.
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If the Coyotes can play their “defense first” style and break out of the “D” zone and into their “O” zone as a unit, they will be tough, especially when they effectively cycle down low and drive defenders nuts. If they can’t, and they devolve into their helter-skelter no-holds-barred type of play, all hell can break loose (and has and will).
The problem all along has been not being able to sustain the disciplined style of play for 60 minutes, and as the games become more critical as these teams come down to the wire, the ‘Yotes can’t afford to stray from their identity. Instead, focused, disciplined hockey involving crisp passing out of the defensive zone and a minimum of careless penalties throughout the game can serve the Coyotes well.
Beginning tonight, we’ll see if the boys in red can carry over Saturday night’s mojo and keep trending upward. Let’s go Coyotes!