With 16 games remaining in the season, 10 of them on the road, what do you see as the biggest challenge for the Coyotes the rest of the way in terms of getting into the playoffs?
Carl Pavlock: Right now I am not sure there is one thing that is the "biggest" challenge for the Coyotes since so many facets of their game are not working correctly. The offense isn't scoring goals and there have been too many defensive lapses that the other teams have capitalized on. Injuries are a major problem as the team is currently without their starting goaltender and one of their top defenseman. Last season the Coyotes' lack of offense wasn't as much of a problem because the defense was so good and the goaltending was unreal, this season all three areas are a question make. If I had to pick one though I think that if the defense is air tight they have the best chance of making it into the playoffs.
Carl Putnam: Mental discipline. Almost every issue the Coyotes have struggled with has involved decision making. The bad penalties, the defensive lapses, turnovers, etc. The other concern is injuries. This team has had too many of them this season, especially to critical players. They need to get everyone healthy and stay healthy if they have any shot of putting together a sustained winning streak.
What has happened to the Coyotes' penalty kill of late (5 PP goals allowed in the last 4 games)?
Carl Pavlock: The Coyotes' PK unit doesn't seem to be protecting the area in front of the goalie enough, which is probably due to a lack of sufficient practice time. With the condensed schedule it doesn't seem like the team is able to address the issues in the same way that they would have in the past. The team is also seems to be taking more stupid penalties which seems to just be a result of sloppy play which is giving the other teams the opportunity to score with the man advantage.
Carl Putnam: I think it's mainly a two-fold issue. Number one, the PK units have been on the ice too much due to the Desert Dogs taking too many penalties. Number two, Zbynek Michalek, arguably their best PK defender, being on the shelf for the past seven games.
The trade deadline is a week away. Do you see the Coyotes making a minor move or two, a major deal, selling, or doing nothing at the deadline?
Carl Pavlock: At this point I can see the Coyotes being sellers at the trade deadline depending on the other teams in the race. If there is an organization looking to rent then there are probably a few pieces that the Coyotes can move, and would move if the deal is good enough. One player that I wouldn't be surprised to see go is Steve Sullivan who doesn't seem to be a good fit for the team but could potentially be a good match for an offense minded team. I could also see the Yotes trading a defenseman to a team looking to shore up their defense going into the playoffs.
Carl Putnam: I don't see this squad making the playoffs at this point therefore I also see the team as sellers. GMDM will likely look to unload UFA guys like Sullivan, Torres, and Gordon. I also wouldn't be surprised to see a multi-player package deal involving a combination of NHL player, prospect, and/or draft picks in an attempt to get more skill at forward.