Here’s a look at the remaining games of the Arizona Coyotes and how they’ll fare when the season hopefully returns.
Who knows how long this pause in the schedule will last. If the NHL does resume again this season, which is certainly an If at this point, the Coyotes have some unfinished business to attend to. There are exactly 12 games left in the slate for the Arizona Coyotes once play resumes, which certainly isn’t tons of time to right the ship and try to make the playoffs.
Currently, Arizona sits outside the playoffs sitting at 74 points, 4 points behind the Nashville Predators who hold the second wild card spot at the moment. To add insult to injury, there are also two teams who sit ahead of the ‘Yotes at the moment to make the path to the playoffs even more complicated. So let’s take a look at what the rest of the Coyotes schedule looks like and how many wins it would possibly take down the stretch for them to give themselves a shot at the postseason.
Vs. Vancouver Canucks – Sitting at 78 points in 69 games, the Canucks sit much prettier than the ‘Yotes do. This game is at home and taking care of business against not only a Conference rival, but a team within the division who has playoff aspirations as well would be a huge 4 point swing. Consider this a ‘must-win’ if the Coyotes are going to climb the standings.
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Vs. New York Rangers – Although the Rangers are not an obstacle in terms of a Western Conference playoff spot, that does not mean they are not standing in the way of the Coyotes and their playoff lives. This is another home game and although the Rangers have been playing well of late, it is a game in which the ‘Yotes would love to secure 2 precious points. (Notice a theme yet?)
Vs. Dallas Stars – The Stars have not been playing the best hockey as of late as they have compiled a 3-5-2 record in their last 10 tilts. Dallas seems to always have the ‘Yotes number and play them well, but when play resumes, if the Stars continue their poor play of late, this is one the Coyotes would want to steal.
Vs. Las Vegas Golden Knights – No other way to put it, the Golden Knights are a juggernaut. Maybe the firing of their former head coach Gerard Gallant woke them up a bit, which is not good news for the desert dogs, as the Golden Knights are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. Maybe the long layoff will cool this club off a bit when they come to the Valley or else this game could end up in the loss column for the Coyotes.
Vs. Detroit Red Wings – In the last game of a crucial 5 game home-stand for the Coyotes they face off against the lowly Red Wings. No question, this is a must-win as they face-off on home ice against the worst team in hockey. If the Coyotes forget to show up in this game, they can forget about a potential postseason as well.
@ Los Angeles Kings – The Kings only have 64 points on the season, but that is not truly indicative of how the team has been playing recently. They are 8-1-1 in their last ten and could prove a tough test for the Coyotes in their first road game since hockey started up again. Again, the ‘Yotes have to take care of their own business and even though the Kings have been playing well lately, they should not win this game if the Coyotes want to reach the playoffs.
@Las Vegas Golden Knights – Not much to say here, but the Coyotes probably need to earn a split in their remaining match-ups against the Golden Knights to work themselves up the playoff ladder.
@Nashville Predators – After a slow start to the season, the Predators find themselves in the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. They will be fighting for their playoff lives when the Coyotes visit the Music City. This game will certainly have a playoff feel to it as the Predators try to fend off the Coyotes and keep themselves in a playoff spot. I won’t go as far as to say that this is a ‘must-win’ since it is a road game against a team currently seeded in the playoffs, but it’s close.
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@San Jose Sharks – The Sharks are a bottom feeder this season (pun intended). The Sharks do not have anything to play for and the Coyotes do. It will be a tough game due to the fact that it will be the second game of a back to back coming off the Predators game. The time off the Coyotes have at the moment should give their legs some time to rest and hopefully, this doesn’t let an inferior foe spoil their playoff chances.
@Colorado Avalanche – The ‘Yotes head to the Mile High city to take on an elite Western Conference team. Center Nathan MacKinnon has 35 goals on the season and is a threat to light up the scoreboard nightly. If the Coyotes don’t find their defensive ‘mojo’ again, this is another game that could get away from them and end up as a loss.
Vs. Vancouver Canucks – Another perfect opportunity for a potential 4 point swing in the right direction for the Coyotes if they can put away the Canucks at Gila River Arena. This game will surely have a playoff feel to it (as they all should for the Coyotes) as both teams postseason dreams will hang in the balance once the puck drops. Getting a win here would be essential for the Coyotes and this postseason push.
Vs. Winnipeg Jets – The last game of the season sees the Jets come to the valley who currently occupy the first Western Conference wildcard spot. Another team who has been playing well of late as they have posted a 6-3-1 mark in their last 10. The Jets are dangerous all over the ice as they have 5 players who have 58 points or more on the season already. Lockdown defense and blocked shots will be key in eliminating scoring chances for the Jets. It should not be difficult for the Coyotes to get up for this one as it is the last game of the season (and on home ice) and pull out a win.
Things are bleak right now for the Coyotes, no doubt about it. Many things need to go in their direction for them to find themselves in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. In my opinion, the Coyotes have to win at least 8, but probably like 9 or 10 to really think about a playoff berth.
The schedule is manageable considering 8 of the remaining games are at home and there are some teams that already packed it in still left to play, so although unlikely, there is a glimmer of hope. The team needs to get back to playing Coyote hockey, team defensive, great goal-tending and getting guys and pucks to the front of the net. Do that, and they have a fighting chance.