Arizona Coyotes Have Chance to Earn Playoff Spot in Final 12 Games

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

Barring any additional self-destructive behavior or a complete implosion, the Arizona Coyotes are capable of securing the 4th position for the playoffs.

Despite suffering 5 straight losses and being stuck at 43 points for what seems an eternity, the Arizona Coyotes still have a chance to participate in the postseason. Just getting there after such a tumultuous regular season would be a minor miracle, and it’s pretty incredible that this notoriously “.500” team is still in the conversation. Some Yotes’ fans, however, hope they don’t make it.

How can a Coyotes fan not want the boys to get to the playoffs? Well their position might be partly based upon the vivid memory of the Coyotes being embarrassed by the Colorado Avalanche on national TV during last year’s playoffs. We all cringe when we relive those uncomfortable bubble days, but should that be a reason to prefer elimination prior to this year’s playoffs? To some, yes.

If everything else stays the same, the best predictor of the Coyotes’ future performances will rest within their past performances.

The recent slide by the Coyotes doesn’t inspire much enthusiasm or belief by their fans that the Yotes will break into any sort of spontaneous self-direction and focus their efforts on playing full sixty-minute games consistently. Even if they did, the Coyotes can only make do with what they have.

We know that the Coyotes can potentially reach the playoffs, but if they do, can they realistically expect to advance to the second round? No, they can’t, and everyone with a brain in their noggin’ knows that. The Arizona Coyotes are not collectively good enough to earn the right to advance past the first round. Let’s entertain the notion about what’s likely to happen in the Coyotes quest for the playoffs.

On Saturday afternoon, the Coyotes play the St. Louis Blues (19-17-6 44 points) for their 8th and final time. I’m hoping that the Desert Dogs play an inspired game for, and in loving memory of, sweet angel Leighton Accardo.

On Monday and Wednesday nights the Yotes will host the Minnesota Wild. Being the home team provides no advantage, however, as the Wild has “owned” the Coyotes both home and away for the past two seasons. The Yotes then travel to Los Angeles for a single game next Saturday, and they still hurt from giving that game away in the third period, losing 4 to 3. Ouch!

On April 26 and 28, the team plays the San Jose Sharks (18-20-4 40 points) in California. The Coyotes played them so long ago that there’s no telling what to expect in those upcoming games, but if they flounder in the 4 games immediately prior, then it’s probably a moot point anyway. Lo and behold, the team with the shiny gold helmets, the Vegas Golden Knights (29-11-2 60 points), come to GRA on April 30 and May 1 (“mayday” indeed!) to play the Coyotes. The Yotes will have their hands full, as the VGK will be in “full speed ahead” mode trying to snatch the top spot in the Honda West Division from the tight grasp of the Colorado Avalanche.

Two nights later the Coyotes will host the L.A. Kings for a pair of games, one on May 3 and the other on May 5.

Warning: In case you’ve already forgotten, there is no such thing as a home ice advantage for the Yotes. If the NHL and GRA allow 50% capacity for these games, there will be way too many Kings fans in attendance, and they will drown out the Coyotes’ supporters.

Finally, on May 7 and 8, the Arizona Coyotes travel to San Jose to play the Sharks in game #55 and #56. By this time, however, this matchup could have lost its luster, as one or both of the teams could have been guaranteed a playoff spot or eliminated from the postseason based upon their prior results.

Recap: Twelve games left with 5 different opponents, with only four games that may ultimately have negative outcomes (VGK and Wild). Let’s take a closer look at what’s probably achievable and what is more like a drug-induced fantasy.

Are the Blues beatable? Yes. How about the Wild? Yes, although the Yotes did it just once this year. How do you feel about the Kings – beatable? Definitely, but please proceed with cautious optimism (I refer you to April 7)! How about those guys from up Vegas way? Well, not unless the Coyotes can play a focused, error-free game for 60 minutes, so that’s probably a no. How beatable are the Sharks, who the Coyotes play 4 more times, all in California? They don’t have a stacked roster like Vegas and Minnesota do. There are 8 valuable points right there.

In theory, the Arizona Coyotes should be competitive with, and therefore have a chance of beating, the L.A. Kings and San Jose Sharks. That includes 7 games and 14 points. The Yotes will probably have to win 5 of those 7 to remain playoff relevant. If they can split the two games with Minnesota and beat the Blues on Saturday afternoon, there’s another 4 points.

If the Coyotes can take care of their own head-to-head business, they may not have to rely on much help from their opponents because they’ve set their own table. Hockey can be a funny game, however, and it routinely coughs up surprises, both good and bad. We’ll soon find out if it’s just more of the same for the Desert Dogs, or if they actually make enough impact on their fate by grabbing this opportunity, playing hard, and benefitting from their efforts.

Oh, one more thing. Under the circumstances, maybe the Coyotes could consider making Adin Hill their Number 1 goalkeeper. Is that a good idea, or am I just behaving like I’m in a drug-induced state of mind? You decide, and let’s go Coyotes!