The Arizona Coyotes have 21 games remaining on their regular season schedule, and solid goalkeeping and consistent, disciplined hockey may be their ticket to the playoffs.
If the Coyotes ran the table and won the remainder of their games in regulation time, they’d end up with 79 points. On the flip side, if they fell off the table and broke all the chairs, losing their remaining games, they’d be at 37 points. Although 79 is much more preferable than 37, the Yotes will land somewhere in between.
Let’s see, then, if we can have a bit of fun assessing their chances of getting to the playoffs based on what they’ve already done and who they are going to play.
Here is a chronology of who the Desert Dogs will be facing, along with their results thus far:
March 31 – @ Avalanche Coyotes (2 and 4)
Apr 2 and 3 – @ Ducks Coyotes (4 and 2)
Apr 5 and 7 – @ Kings Coyotes (1 and 2)
Apr 9 and 11 – @ VGK Coyotes (1 and 3)
Apr 12 – @ Avalanche Yotes (2 and 4)
Apr 14 – @ Wild Coyotes (1 and 4)
Apr 17 – H Blues Coyotes (4 and 3)
Apr 19 + 21 – H Wild
Apr 24 – @ Kings
Apr 26 + 28 – @ Sharks Coyotes (3 and 1)
Apr 30 + May 1 – H VGK
May 3 and 5 – H Kings
May 7 and 8 – @ Sharks
We know the Colorado Avalanche (22-8-4 48 pts) is one of the top teams in the entire NHL, much less the Honda West Division, and thankfully the Coyotes only have to play them twice, but in Colorado. Fans won’t have to wait very long to see how the Coyotes and Adin Hill fare against the Avs, as the penultimate game will be played this Wednesday night.
If the Coyotes can keep the game close by minimizing Colorado’s first-line attack and not showing them too much respect, it could pay dividends. Regardless of the results, the Avalanche games will serve as useful tools for measuring the Coyotes’ progress and preparation for their other games.
The Desert Dogs next travel to Anaheim to face the pesky Ducks (11-20-6 28 pts) for their final two games of the season. The Ducks haven’t been easy to beat, and young, skillful players like Max Comtois and Trevor Zegras, along with stalwarts Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell, Adam Henrique, and Cam Fowler, always make the task tough. When goalkeeper John Gibson is between the pipes, it gets even tougher, and these games are always decided by a single goal. Can the Coyotes snatch all 4 points from the Ducks in Anaheim?
The Desert Dogs have to play the Los Angeles Kings (13-14-6) 5 more times, thrice in Southern California and twice at home. Going into Monday night’s game versus the Vegas Golden Knights, the Kings sat just 5 points behind the 5th place Coyotes with 32 points. The Coyotes and Kings have historically played close, physical games, and I don’t anticipate that changing when there are 10 valuable points up for grabs. That series is bound to have a significant impact upon whether or not the Yotes head to the postseason.
The Arizona Coyotes’ playoff hopes ride on their ability to beat the teams beneath them in the Honda West Division standings.
The Vegas Golden Knights (24-8-1 49 pts) is another stout, physical group for the Coyotes to battle, and they’re big and fast. These two teams will play 4 more times, 2 at home and 2 away, but regardless of the venue, the VGK have always played the Coyotes tough.
The third team near the top of the standings is the Minnesota Wild, (21-10-2) a blue collar team very similar in style to the Desert Dogs that historically gives the Coyotes fits. The Yotes failed to beat them in three games last year, and have only won 1 of 5 against that “never say die, full speed ahead” group this year. With the addition of Russian sensation and Calder Trophy candidate Kirill Kaprizov, the Wild are more dangerous than ever, and intend to derail the Coyotes postseason train.
Because of their marathon 7-game series early in the season, the Coyotes and St. Louis Blues only have one game remaining, a matinee tilt on April 17 in Glendale. The Blues (16-13-6 38 pts) currently sit in fourth place, one point ahead of the Coyotes. The Blues were 2-5-3 in their past 10 games, but the real advantage that the Coyotes have over the Blue Notes is that St. Louis will play the top three teams in the Honda West 18 times in their final 21 games, while the Yotes face the top 3 “only” 9 of their final 21.
Last but certainly not least, the Coyotes will play the San Jose Sharks (14-16-4 32 pts) 4 more times, all in San Jose. The Sharks will certainly be looking for revenge regardless of whether they’ll still be playoff relevant or not.
The only way for the Arizona Coyotes to have any direct positive impact on their playoff destiny is to win all of their remaining games. That, of course, won’t happen, as they’re battling other professionals with the same goal in mind in a high stakes environment. But if the boys can win the majority of their games against the teams that are currently beneath them in the standings (11 games versus the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks), and possibly a game or two against the top three (and the last one vs the Blues), they have a legitimate shot of participating in the postseason.
Chances are good that the schedule the St. Louis Blues face may be insurmountable, but that’s the Blues’ problem. If the Coyotes can focus on and take care of their own business one game at a time, they may very well find themselves in the top 4 of the Division. At this juncture, it’s entirely possible. Let’s go Coyotes!