GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 10: Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Phoenix Coyotes is congratulated by Brett MacLean #39 and teammates after defeating the Calgary Flames in the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on March 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Flames 3-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Greetings Phoenix Coyotes fans. This week’s edition of the Roundtable looks towards the upcoming playoffs and back at last month’s big trade.
Provided that the Coyotes qualify for the playoffs, what team do they match up the best/least? Why?
Carl: The Coyotes match up well with most any team given their style of play. With the Canucks losing Manny Malhotra the only team I feel the Dogs match up poorly with at the moment is the San Jose Sharks.
Jordan: I think one thing that the Coyotes have shown over the past few weeks is that they can play with anyone in the league and when on their game, they can frustrate even the most potent offensive squads. That being said, because the Coyotes are not really an offensive juggernaut, I like their match-up best with a team like LA or Nashville, while playing any of the teams above them in the West or Chicago will likely give them a tougher time.
Paul: I think the Coyotes match up best with Los Angeles or Nashville based on their styles of play. Anaheim might be a possible match up based on the Coyotes success against them but they along with San Jose play a real punishing game - if a series goes to seven with either of those teams the Coyotes will be pretty banged up. Based on what we saw with Chicago, seeing them in the playoffs would make a pretty exciting series, but Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa are extremely dangerous. I really don't want to see Vancouver or Detroit in the first round, because Vancouver is just a beast, and Detroit - well...it's Detroit...
Travis: I'm not sure there's a team that they really matchup well against, but conversely there isn't anyone to really over fear either. Honestly even if we had to play the Canucks after watching the last game we can matchup to them and lock down defensively. In a 7 game series though? It's really hard to tell. Actually the current matchup with the Kings isn't too bad either with the Coyotes having gone 3-2 against them so far with another game still to play. Outside of us though, I really like the NSH-DET playoff matchup. Simply because oddly the Preds have owned the Wings this year.
What playoff contending team looks the strongest pushing into the playoffs? The weakest?
Carl: The Blackhawks, Sharks, Ducks and Kings all are looking strong at the moment. The Calgary Flames look to be the weakest. The Flames have also played more games than anyone else.
Jordan: Do any teams in the West really ever lose? Seriously, over their last ten games the "worst" record of a playoff team in the west is 5-3-2, which over a full season would be approximately 97 points give or take. Anaheim and Nashville are currently streaking a bit, but nobody is really blowing everyone out of the water or getting embarrassed consistently. If I had to pick just two teams, I'd say Nashville has looked the best recently while LA has looked the worst, but that will change by the time this is published, I'm sure.
Paul: Vancouver just looks unstoppable to me. They look to be the strongest. Believe it or not, right now the Red Wings look shaky. I still don't want a first round match up with them though.
Travis: Dallas has to be the weakest. Sitting at 9th they just haven't been able to put together enough wins lately and are fighting with Anaheim to get that last spot. The Ducks have gone 8-2-0 over the last ten and of the pack trying to get in have charged up the hardest. I still hope for a Chicago collapse though and now with Sharp out they can fall off the map.
Carl: At the time of the deal I saw the move as a short term detriment and a long term plus given the team's needs. Things have worked out better than I anticipated as the Coyotes have played better defense and gotten balanced scoring since the move. I still don't believe that Mikkel Boedcker or Brett MacLean make up for Upshall's scoring, but they make not need to.
Jordan: I was pretty ok with the trade when it was made so I'm not sure my thoughts have changed. Klesla has filled an important role with Ed Jovanovski out of the lineup and he really shores up Coach Tippett's defensive scheme once Jovo is back. I know Upshall and Lepisto have played pretty well with Columbus, but I'm not sure we would have seen that progression here. The Coyotes have filled those roster places well and I'm pretty pleased with the deal overall. Now, if Scottie wants to return to Phoenix this offseason for the right price, I wouldn't be opposed to that either.
Paul: I thought the trade was a good one initially. Nothing has swayed me away from that point. With Jovo's injury keeping him out, Klesla was a necessary addition. Upshall has gone a minus-7 and scored only four goals in 11 games. Lepisto has fared better over there notching three assists and running a plus-3. It is unfortunate that 2/3 of the kid line is starting to go through a dry spell. I think Boedker will be an important ingredient in the next eight games or so.
Travis: Not really. I mean the Coyotes aren't hurting for goal scoring, they needed more defense and Klesla has played well other than getting his face busted open. Losing Uppy sucked, but in the long run doesn't hurt the team as the goals are coming from everywhere.