Arizona Coyotes Playoff Hopes Fading, Yet Team Still Has Time

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The clock is ticking on the less-than-likely Arizona Coyotes playoff run, but placing fourth is still achievable.

The Arizona Coyotes are losing games at the worst possible time for a playoff run. They’ve lost three in a row, and the chances are good that it will increase to four straight after tonight’s game at the slaughterhouse in Denver. Let’s assume that the Desert Dogs go down to defeat (bear with me) and remain at 43 dismal points.

First of all, it’s amazing that the Yotes are still in the hunt for a playoff spot with 13 games remaining after tonight. It boggles the mind that a team that hovers around a “.500” winning percentage all season long remains relevant, but we’re glad they are.

What will the Coyotes most likely have to do in their final 13 games to be in the hunt for the playoffs? Easy peasy answer – win!

There are fans that don’t really care if the Desert Dogs make the playoffs, because if they do, they will certainly face the Colorado Avalanche or the Vegas Golden Knights. A reasonable and prudent person would therefore assume that the Coyotes would get their butts kicked in 5 or 6 games and be embarrassingly eliminated in the first round. What good would that do? Others believe that the experience of participating in the playoffs will pay dividends for next season when the team makes significant roster changes with General Manager Bill Armstrong beginning to put his stamp on the Coyotes’ organization.

Regardless, let’s take a peek at the Coyotes remaining schedule. They play 7 home games and 6 away. Five of the 7 at home are against the top 4 teams, as follows:

April 17 vs St. Louis Blues
April 19 and 21 vs Minnesota Wild
April 30 and May 1 vs Vegas Golden Knights

The Coyotes then host the Los Angeles Kings on May 3 and 5.

Are these games winnable? Yes, but that depends on factors such as the health of the goalkeepers, the team’s mindset, and the “intestinal fortitude” of the Coyotes. Realistically, it will be tough to beat the top three. All of those teams (except for the L.A. Kings) have superior talent up and down their lineups and the Coyotes don’t. Granted, sometimes it looks as if the Yotes are held together on the ice by duct tape and baling wire, but win or lose, you know fans will still support them and be back at GRA next season. But I digress.

The 6 away games are as follows:

April 14 at Minnesota Wild
April 24 at Los Angeles Kings
April 26 at San Jose Sharks
April 28 at San Jose Sharks
May 7 and 8 at San Jose Sharks

On paper it looks as if the Coyotes could beat these teams in 5 of their 6 away games, which would give them 10 more points in the standings. Are 53 points enough to get the 5th place Coyotes to the playoffs when the 4th place Blues already have 44? Yes, it’s possible IF the Yotes can take care of their own business versus the Sharks, Kings, and the Blues.

Let’s give the Arizona Coyotes the benefit of the doubt. Their goalkeeping corp is getting healthy, and players like feisty, in-your-face Michael Bunting, Jordan Gross, and Dryden Hunt give us a reason to believe that it’s not all gloom and doom.

Sunday’s loss to the VGK was encouraging from a defensive standpoint (nice hits, Michael Bunting and Ilya Lyubushkin), so let’s see what the boys can do at both ends of the ice tonight and in the next few weeks. Let’s go Coyotes!