The Arizona Coyotes have won six of their last seven games to remain in the playoff conversation in the Western Conference, but, as of this writing, the team likely isn’t focused on the victories – they’re focused on the one bad loss they had to close out the week.
Coyotes Week in Review
After a thrilling come-from-behind shootout victory over the Florida Panthers in their previous game on Feb. 26, the Coyotes continued their homestand on Thursday evening in Glendale when they welcomed Elias Pettersson and the Vancouver Canucks to town. Due to injury, Pettersson did not play in Vancouver’s earlier trip to Arizona on Oct. 25, making Thursday’s game the Calder Trophy frontrunner’s first at Gila River Arena. However, it was former Canuck Brad Richardson that instead stole the show in Glendale – he scored not one, not two, not three, but four goals on the night to lead Arizona to a 5-2 victory:
It was the franchise’s first four-goal game since Keith Tkachuk potted four back on Mar. 20, 1997, and Richardson’s performance gave the ‘Yotes their fifth-straight win.
With their second five-game winning streak of the season under their belts, the Coyotes hosted the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday evening in Glendale with their sights set on a sixth straight victory. Josh Archibald and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored during the first period to give Arizona the early lead, and they never really looked back from there, as Vinnie Hinostroza put home a controversial third-period goal (see below) to extend the lead in a game Arizona eventually won, 3-1.
The Anaheim Ducks then came to town on Tuesday evening. On paper, this looked like a game that the Coyotes should have won easily, as the Ducks entered with a 6-21-4 record over their previous 31 games. However, Jakob Silfverberg gave Anaheim the lead less than four minutes in, and, while Arizona tied the game late in the first period, it never really felt like they had a chance to win. They squandered multiple power-play opportunities, including a long 5-on-3 chance, and watched their normally solid penalty-kill unit surrender two crippling power-play tallies in the third period, which provided the final margin in Anaheim’s 3-1 triumph.
A Look Ahead
The Coyotes will try to flush Tuesday’s disappointing performance when the Calgary Flames come to town on Thursday evening. To put it lightly, it’s been a struggle for Rick Tocchet’s group in their first three games against Calgary in 2018-19 – Arizona has suffered 7-1, 6-1, and 5-2 losses at the hands of Bill Peters’ club, and they weren’t really competitive in any of those games. One silver lining working in Arizona’s favor here is the fact that the Flames play on Wednesday night in Vegas before traveling to the Grand Canyon State on Thursday. Will the Coyotes be able to take advantage of a team on the second half of a back-to-back and avoid the season sweep? We’ll find out at 7:00 P.M.
The finale of Arizona’s seven-game homestand will take place on Saturday night out at the rink, when the Los Angeles Kings will come to town for the first time this season. Both of the previous meetings between these teams went down out at the Staples Center, with each team taking a 2-1 regulation decision. Judging by the Western Conference standings, this is a game the Coyotes should win – Los Angeles has been in the conference’s cellar all season long, and Arizona needs to take advantage of the teams below them in the standings as they continue their playoff push. However, as we’ve seen over the years, anything can happen when these two rivals face off against one another – puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 P.M. in the desert.
With their homestand in the books, the Coyotes will then hit the road for a quick Midwestern back-to-back starting on Monday evening in Chicago. The Blackhawks have enjoyed a solid second half of the season, and they flirted with playoff contention briefly after winning seven straight from Jan. 20 to Feb. 10, but they’ve dropped four of their last five and have quickly faded from the playoff conversation as a result. Despite the fact that they’ll likely miss the playoffs, the ‘Hawks are still a dangerous team – Patrick Kane is on pace for a 50-goal season, while former Coyote Dylan Strome has scored at nearly a point-per-game pace since being traded for Nick Schmaltz in November. This one will get started at 7:30 P.M. Central Time (5:30 P.M. in Arizona).
The Coyotes will then wrap up their short two-game roadie on Tuesday in St. Louis with a matchup against Craig Berube’s Blues. An 11-game winning streak from Jan. 23 to Feb. 19 got St. Louis back into the playoff race, but they’ve cooled off significantly since then. They’re 2-3-1 in their last six contests, and are in danger of being passed in the Central Division by the Dallas Stars, which would bring the Blues into play in the wild-card race. This game will have huge playoff implications in the Western Conference – it’ll get started at 7:00 P.M. local time at the Enterprise Center (5:00 P.M. in Arizona).
Pacific Division Roundup
Just over a month remains in the 2018-19 regular season, and, outside of the top two spots in the Pacific, nothing is settled as of yet.
Anaheim Ducks (26-32-9, 61 points)
- Last week: 2-2-0 (4-3 L vs CHI, 3-0 L vs VGK, 2-1 W vs COL, 3-1 W at AZ)
- Analysis: The Ducks haven’t done much winning as of late, but they picked up two victories over two playoff hopefuls to close out last week. They’ll have plenty more chances to play spoiler as the season comes to an end – three of their next four are against playoff clubs.
- Player of the week: Jacob Silfverberg – 2 goals, 2 assists, +1
- This week: Wed vs STL, Fri vs MTL, Sun vs LA, Tue vs NSH
Calgary Flames (41-18-7, 89 points)
- Last week: 1-2-0 (2-1 W at NJ, 4-2 L vs MIN, 6-2 L vs TOR)
- Analysis: The Flames’ seven-game winning streak came grinding to a halt at the end of last week, as they were outscored 10-4 by the Minnesota Wild and Toronto Maple Leafs. Neither Mike Smith nor David Rittich played well in either game – Smith was lit up for four goals on 23 shots on Jarome Iginla jersey retirement night on Saturday at the Saddledome, while Rittich was scored upon a half-dozen times on 32 shots on Monday versus Toronto. The goaltending question lingers on in Calgary.
- Player of the week: Johnny Gaudreau – 4 assists
- This week: Wed at VGK, Thu at AZ, Sun vs VGK, Tue vs NJ
Edmonton Oilers (29-30-7, 65 points)
- Last week: 3-1-0 (6-2 L at TOR, 4-2 W at OTT, 4-0 W at CBJ, 4-3 W at BUF)
- Analysis: The Most Inconsistent Team in the NHL™ won three straight to close out a five-game roadie last week, and they’ll now return home with a puncher’s chance at a playoff berth as they begin a four-game stretch at Rogers Place. Can they stay hot and buck their trend of following up lengthy winning streaks with long losing streaks?
- Player of the week: Leon Draisaitl – 3 goals, 4 assists, +3, 10 SOG
- This week: Thu vs VAN, Sat vs TOR, Mon vs NYR
Los Angeles Kings (24-34-8, 56 points)
- Last week: 1-1-1 (4-3 OTL vs DAL, 6-3 W vs CHI, 3-1 L vs MTL)
- Analysis: Los Angeles picked up a nice 6-3 victory over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday at the Staples Center, but that win is the only one the Kings have earned in their last 12 contests. If the season ended today, L.A. would have the third-best odds of landing the No. 1 overall pick. It’s a race to the bottom.
- Player of the week: Anze Kopitar – 2 goals, 2 assists
- This week: Thu vs STL, Sat at AZ, Sun at ANA
San Jose Sharks (39-19-8, 86 points)
- Last week: 2-0-0 (4-3 W vs COL, 5-2 W vs CHI)
- Analysis: The Sharks continue to win in spite of Martin Jones’ poor play in net – his .895 even-strength save percentage is the worst in the NHL among the 53 netminders who have played in 20 or more games. Can he get his game straightened out before the start of the playoffs? If not, it could mean another year of early tee-times in Northern California.
- Player of the week: Marcus Sorensen – 3 goals, +1
- This week: Thu vs MTL, Sat vs STL, Mon at MIN, Tue at WPG
Vancouver Canucks (27-30-9, 63 points)
- Last week: 0-2-1 (3-2 SOL at COL, 5-2 L at AZ, 3-0 L at VGK)
- Analysis: Here’s an alarming trend – the Canucks have four wins since the All-Star break, and they followed up those victories with losing streaks of three, two, three, and three games, respectively, giving them a record of 4-8-3 since the calendar flipped to February. Not ideal.
- Player of the week: Jacob Markstrom – 0-1-1 record, 88 saves on 93 shots (.946 SV%, 2.40 GAA)
- This week: Wed vs TOR, Thu at EDM, Sat vs VGK
Vegas Golden Knights (36-26-5, 77 points)
- Last week: 3-0-0 (6-5 SOW vs FLA, 3-0 W at ANA, 3-0 W vs VAN)
- Analysis: The Golden Knights appear to have been rejuvenated by the Mark Stone trade – they’re 4-0-0 since acquiring the veteran winger from the Ottawa Senators at the deadline after enduring a stretch of 5-11-1 from Jan. 10 to Feb. 22, the worst in the league over that span. Vegas likely won’t catch San Jose for the No. 2 spot in the division, though, meaning they’ll have to go on the road to start the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs.
- Player of the week: Marc-Andre Fleury – 2 starts, 2 shutouts, 53 saves
- This week: Wed vs CGY, Sat at VAN, Sun at CGY
The Western Conference’s wild-card race is still wide-open – here’s a look at the teams Arizona is battling for those final playoff spots:
Dallas Stars (34-27-5, 73 points, 7th in West)
- Last week: 3-0-0 (4-3 OTW at LA, 4-1 W at STL, 1-0 W vs NYR)
- Analysis: Dallas gave themselves a bit of breathing room with a three-game winning streak during last week’s action, and they put themselves in position to potentially catch the St. Louis Blues for that No. 3 spot in the Central as well.
- Player of the week: John Klingberg – 2 goals, 3 assists, +2
- This week: Thu vs COL, Sat vs CHI, Tue at BUF
Minnesota Wild (32-27-8, 72 points, 8th in West)
- Last week: 1-0-2 (4-2 W at CGY, 3-2 SOL vs NSH, 5-4 SOL at NSH)
- Analysis: Minnesota’s five-game winning streak came to an end last week, but the Wild still managed to pick up points in both of their losses, which came in shootouts against the Nashville Predators. Overall, they’re riding a seven-game point streak and have a two-point lead for the final wild-card spot. They’re in decent shape, but they’ll play a tough schedule from here on out, with 11 of their 15 games coming against current playoff teams.
- Player of the week: Ryan Suter – Goal, 2 assists, +5
- This week: Thu at TB, Fri at FLA, Mon vs SJ
Colorado Avalanche (28-25-12, 70 points, 9th in West)
- Last week: 2-2-0 (3-2 SOW vs VAN, 4-3 L at SJ, 2-1 L at ANA, 4-3 OTW vs DET)
- Analysis: The Avs hit a bit of a bump in the road last week with a 2-1 loss in Anaheim on Sunday, and they nearly suffered a second-consecutive bad loss to a non-playoff team on Tuesday against Detroit, but they rebounded to tie the game late before winning in overtime. They’re just two points out of a playoff spot, but their low win total likely will mean they’ll need to finish ahead of teams in the standings. A tie after 82 games won’t cut it.
- Player of the week: Mikko Rantanen – 3 goals, 2 assists, +2
- This week: Thu at DAL, Sat vs BUF, Mon vs CAR