The All-Star break has come at the perfect time for the Arizona Coyotes, who have slipped down to the fifth in the Pacific Division.
Rick Tocchet’s team has come through a tough stretch of games that has seen them play five out of their past seven on the road, holding a 5-4-1 record in their past ten games heading into the mid-season break.
The Coyotes are still firmly in the playoff hunt with 57 points (a 26-20-5 record), with Edmonton, Calgary, and Vegas all tied with the Arizona team, while Vancouver has claimed the top spot by just one point.
After back-to-back losses, the Coyotes now have a chance to refresh and refocus on the task at hand, which is securing post-season hockey for the first time in eight years.
After a road trip to the Anaheim Ducks, a game that, on paper, the Coyotes should be winning, Tocchet’s men have a four-game homestand that can help get them back into the swing of things and help kick on for the rest of the season.
The Coyotes sport almost identical records home (12-10-2) and away (14-10-3) but have played the second-most games on the road in the league to date, meaning that they will have more time at home in the crucial run to the playoffs.
With Darcy Kuemper hopefully returning after the All-Star break, and Antti Raanta having a chance to return to full health, the Coyotes should be in a stronger position to move forward.
Giving their stars a chance to recover should also help the Coyotes regain their energy and focus for the remaining 31 games of the season, with some of their stars needing to regain some of their form shown earlier in the season.
Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel are catching up to Nick Schmaltz, who currently leads the team in points, and the Chicago native needs to work on snapping a seven-game points drought if he is to have a positive contribution to the team’s playoff chase.
Taylor Hall, meanwhile, just needs to keep up his impressive performances as he has averaged almost a point-per-game (seven goals, eight assists in 16 games) since arriving in the desert.
It is certainly not time to panic, with the daunting proposition of the trade deadline also to consider, but the break does give the team a chance to reset and enter the final phase of the season with renewed purpose and energy.