It’s as close to a foregone conclusion as you can get that the Arizona Coyotes (22-24-6 50 points) won’t be participating in this year’s playoffs. Even if they win their last two home games against the visiting L.A. Kings (19-24-6 44 points) on Monday and Wednesday nights, their 4 additional points would give them 54, just one more than the St. Louis Blues (23-19-7 53 points), who have played only 49 games and have three games in hand. Things are not likely to fall the way the Yotes would like, but it’s also not entirely impossible.
If the Desert Dogs play like they did while managing to get three out of four points from the glittering Knights of Vegas, they’d have a legitimate chance of beating the Kings at Gila River Arena. Then they wrap things up with the San Jose Sharks (20-26-5 45 points) in California on Friday and Saturday evenings. In essence, the Coyotes would max out at 58 points with 4 wins, but the Blues only need 3 more wins to get to the playoffs. They play the Anaheim Ducks tonight and Wednesday night prior to heading to Vegas for games on Friday and Saturday nights. The Blues travel to L.A. for a makeup game on Monday, and then return to St. Louis to host the Minnesota Wild on May 12 and 13 in what are sure to be tremendous games.
The Arizona Coyotes could be eliminated from the playoff picture as early as May 7 when the Blues and VGK game is over. Even if the Yotes ran the table and beat the Kings and the Sharks, the St. Louis Blues would lock up 4th place for good by beating the Ducks twice and then VGK on Friday night this week. It might take a game or two more, but the end of their season is near.
Regardless of the ultimate results, the Coyotes organization will continue to assess its hockey operations staff, coaches, and players during these final four games. Most observers anticipate a host of changes to the roster, but probably the biggest question is the fate of Rick Tocchet.
Many fans don’t want him to be retained, and frankly, he may not want to stay if offered the opportunity to do so based upon the “lack of meat on the bones” of the teams he’s had to work with. Other fans believe that Tocchet and staff have made enough progress during his tenure to be retained and given the chance to work with a better group of players. It’s true that it is easier to fire a coach than twenty-plus players, but is getting rid of Tocchet the answer? That is what General Manager Bill Armstrong will have to decide, and there are pros and cons to both sides. Bottom line: Coyotes fans don’t really care who coaches and who plays as long as there’s a truly competitive, winning product on the ice. Let’s go Coyotes!