Coyotes Ups and Downs: Heading to the Playoffs Edition

The Phoenix Coyotes didn't have the most dominating final week of the season, but playing some motivated and fairly good Pacific Division foes didn't exactly lend itself to dominating performances. The Coyotes did enough to get the job done going 1-1-1 down the stretch and putting themselves in the #6 position in the Western Conference.

As we do every Wednesday, join us after the jump for a look at who's trending up, trending down and sitting in neutral as we head to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

And here we go:

Goalies Trend Notes
Ilya Bryzgalov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Bryz was probably sharpest in the final game of the season, despite that being his only regulation loss of the week. Need evidence, check out this save. No seriously, I'll wait...go watch that save. Bryz may not have gotten the bounces, but he's as focused as ever going into this series and that's all the Coyotes may need to pull off this upset.
Jason LaBarbera http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Ditto from last week:  Nothing to report - Barbs is just keeping the players' moods light and doing his job to the best of his ability.
Defensemen
Adrian Aucoin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Oakie got some shorter minutes during the last week (hopefully to rest up for the playoffs). There's nothing much changing about Aucoin's game right now, but he'll be a major factor towards keeping Bryz's crease clear of Holmstrom and Bertuzzi in the first round.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png And now OEL is back with the big team. See, get some playing time, see what you can do and be here in case of emergency. The Coyotes still haven't done the best of jobs with OEL, but it's clear that they know they have something special. Hopefully if he gets in the game, he isn't too in awe of his idol Nick Lidstrom to drive him hard into the boards.
Ed Jovanovski http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Jovo (wearing his bad-ass full face cage) is working his way back up to his normal Jovocop self and that's exactly what the Coyotes need. Love to have him back for what should be a rough and tumble series; hopefully he can stay healthy and drive those Wings forwards crazy.
Rostislav Klesla Klesla was a -2 in the team's win over San Jose and saw only 14 minutes of ice time in the final game of the season (not sure if he might have been injured). I know he practiced with the team today, so not going to make any assumption that this is a problem going forward.
Derek Morris DMo also had a quiet week and played about the same number of minutes as Klesla in the season finale. And I'm not sure he's entirely healthy because practice reports didn't have him practicing with the regular lines. Hopefully that's not the case because DMo provides more of that physical presence that the Coyotes are looking for on the blue line.
Michal Rozsival http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Rozsival was a -2 against LA and +1 in the first game against San Jose (even in the finale). Having gotten this far in the team's D now, I see that there were pretty much no points scored by the defense during the final week. That's not going to get the job done against Detroit where every goal will be harder to come by and of heightened importance.
Kurt Sauer http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Because it was so good, I'm keeping the info about Sarah McClellan's fabulous article about Sauer here.
David Schlemko http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Schlemko hasn't played this past week, but he'll likely be the first guy out of the press box in case of injury. What Schlemko takes away from the defensive stability of the team, he more than makes up in creating offense.
Keith Yandle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Yands is simply the driving force of the Coyotes defense. He plays an unreal number of minutes, thrives in creating chances and played well in the playoff series last year. He's probably the linchpin to the Coyotes playoff hopes, so let's hope he isn't burned out from his huge regular season workload.
Forwards
Eric Belanger http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Two assists in the clinching game with San Jose including starting the great tic tac toe play that led to Whitney's goal. Belanger has been in a groove with Doan and Whitney and that's going to be the key line against Detroit this week.
Paul Bissonnette http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Does anyone make more of their five minutes on the ice than BizNasty. Amazingly, he's found a niche playing alongside Turris and Ebbett recently (although I wouldn't be surprised to see some more Boedker in the series), but his physicality is opening up ice for Turris to make plays, and that's exactly what they accomplished for Ebbett's opening goal against San Jose.
Mikkel Boedker Boeds didn't play too much this week, only getting 7 minutes of -1 ice time against Los Angeles. I think we'll see a bit more of Boedker in this series and he showed during the stretch run that he is capable of playing an important role on this team. He may have fizzled a bit down the stretch, I think he'll be a solid contributor against Detroit.
Shane Doan http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png A goal and an assist in the clinching game, over 20 minutes of ice time in each game, not a minus in any of them. Doan's been in playoff form since mid-February and I think more than anyone he has a lot to prove against Detroit; anyone want to bet against him?
Andrew Ebbett http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Ebbett's goal marked his first point since March 17 although it didn't net him much more playing time. Like BizNasty, he's found a bit of a niche playing with Turris, but I wouldn't be surprised if his ice time goes to Boedker now that Hanzal is back and healthy to return to his normal faceoff winning beast mode.
Vernon Fiddler http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Fiddy and his linemates were tremendous against LA (2 assists, +2), but followed it up with a -4 weekend performance against San Jose with no points. Fiddler and his mates are still primarily counted on to shut down the top unit, so hopefully he'll have a fun time playing Datsyuk's shadow for a few weeks.
Martin Hanzal http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Other than getting into a bit of penalty trouble (which was costly in the finale), Hanzal looked solid in his return, winning faceoffs and playing strong in his defensive zone while putting his big frame right in front of Niemi and causing havoc. He always plays big against Detroit and the Coyotes will be looking for lots from Hanzal to play both solid offense and defense to lead the team to a victory.
Ryan Hollweg
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Hollweg returned to the press box where he is likely to remain for the remainder of the playoffs barring injury. Hollweg, though, reminds me of Barbs in some respects as he'll help keep the room loose heading into the playoffs, so that's a plus.
Lauri Korpikoski http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png It is definitely possible that other than Doan, Korpedo is the most important player on this squad as he plays every aspect of the game and is the team's biggest offensive speed threat which will be essential if one of the games become a run-and-gun affair. Like Hanzal, Korpy has shown up to play against Detroit all year, so the team will be looking for more of that in the first round.
Brett MacLean http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Like Hollweg, Brett probably won't be seeing the ice for the playoffs this year. Being around the team however is good for him and it will hopefully help him see what he needs to bring next season to play a more significant role with the squad.
Andy Miele
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Congrats to Andy on his Hobey Baker win. He hasn't seen the ice outside of practice and that is unlikely to change, but this is a great experience for the kid from Miami University.
Taylor Pyatt http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Pyatt comes back from his injury, lays down a pretty assist and a driving to the net goal against LA and plays pretty solid against San Jose in the weekend series. Pyatt's had a breakthrough kind of season for the Coyotes and will look to continue that against Detroit. His physical play will be put to the test in this series, and the Coyotes could use some of his timely, gritty goals.
Lee Stempniak http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Lee followed up his solid game against Colorado with another goal and assist against Los Angeles. He cooled a bit in the finale games against the Sharks, but Lee is sneaky streaky and if he gets hot, he brings out the best in Fiddy and Pyatt as well.
Kyle Turris http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Turris keeps impressing me and his pass to set up the Ebbett goal was simply fantastic. Tippett still isn't giving him a ton of ice time, but he's making the most of it. He'll need to bring that tenacity he showed in Friday's clincher in his first playoff action, but if he steps up his game, he could be a big part to a Coyotes win.
Radim Vrbata http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Vrby was shooting more of the final week and cashed in with a goal and an assist in the clinching game. Having his normal center back certainly seems to help his confidence on the ice and that line will be seeing plenty of ice time all series and need to chip in at both ends of the ice with solid play if the Coyotes are to win.
Ray Whitney http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Whitney is also shooting more and I've been loving his play with Doan and Belanger recently. The power play hasn't been scoring more goals, but it has looked better and Whitney is always a big part of that. The Wizard is the only Coyote other than Bryzgalov with a Stanley Cup ring. His leadership will be HUGE this postseason and his wonderful humor should help keep the team loose and ready to roll.
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