Arizona Coyotes Hopeful Quest for the Playoffs is at a Crossroads

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Arizona Coyotes are approaching a critical juncture of their schedule, but are remaining optimistic about their hopes for reaching the post season.

The Arizona Coyotes (9-9-3 and 21 pts) are a “.500” team after playing just short of 40% of their 56-game season. To many who are most familiar with the team, that’s not particularly a surprise, and they believe that the Coyotes are exactly where they deserve to be based upon the team’s talent and overall performance thus far.

From the NHL world outside the desert, anyone can claim that the Yotes are nothing extraordinary. They have no bona fide stars on their roster, nor any history of success as a franchise. Short term, their lack of options regarding the draft makes their circumstances appear even more dire.

Nevertheless, the Coyotes will continue to practice and strive for consistency in their play, try to eliminate mistakes, and try to return to playing a solid forechecking, puck possession game on offense. They also need to practice clearing the puck out of their own zone without it being intercepted and jammed down their own throats. Just sayin‘! Those few practices will help, along with some time to rest and heal, but the upcoming challenges are big ones.

After the Desert Dogs visit the Los Angeles Kings (9-7-4 and 22 pts) on Wednesday night, those pesky and problematic Minnesota Wild (12-6-1 and 25 pts) visit GRA on Friday and Saturday nights. Monday night, the Wild (7-2-1 in their last 10 games) led the Vegas Golden Knights 4 to 2 before losing in OT 5 to 4.

In an eleven day span, the Yotes will play the Wild at GRA, travel to Colorado to play the Avalanche on March 8 and 10, and then travel to Minnesota to play the Wild thrice from March 12 through the 16th. Yikes!

Ask Coyotes fans what the team should be doing to increase their chances of making the playoffs, and you’ll get answers from across the board. Personnel comments include fire Rick Tocchet, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, or keep Tocchet because he’s the only reason that the Coyotes are where they are now and in the playoff mix.

Here’s another: Strip Oliver Ekman-Larsson of his captaincy because he’s rubbish and couldn’t lead himself out of a brown paper bag. No, others insist, we’d rather keep OEL as the captain because he shows leadership both on and off the ice, and is not the Yotes problem. And on it goes.

Other comments include some merit-worthy remarks about systems or philosophies of play. Dump the “dump and chase” and “please teach them how to maintain puck possession while on the power play!” are common ones.

Many of us simply want a player to protect our playmakers like Conor Garland and Clayton Keller from being physically abused by the opposition while referees look the other way!

Personally, I enjoy the passion that Coyotes fans show for their team. Like many Yotes fans, it irritates the heck out of me to see the opposition’s fans outnumber our fans in the arena. I feel your pain, but take it one step at a time folks.

The fact that Coyotes fans care enough about their team that they are on social media hashing it out and expressing heartfelt opinions and making “I know hockey better than you do” remarks (mostly civilly) so that the Desert Dogs can succeed is appreciated. What’s the alternative? Shut down, clam up, and root for the VGK or Kings? Nah, I don’t think so.

As frustrating as the Arizona Coyotes can and will be, they’re our team. I, for one, appreciate the fire and the passion and opinions that fans bring with them in their support of the team. It’s even worth being called a clown, or an idiot. Or both. Let’s go Coyotes!