The Arizona Coyotes have a big road trip coming up. I like to avoid using hyperbole when it comes to hockey, but the next four games may make or break the Coyotes’ season.
The upcoming road trip will feature the Coyotes playing against the Vancouver Canucks, the Calgary Flames, and the Winnipeg Jets. Once they return they will host the Canucks, the second of the three remaining games against their division rivals.
If Arizona loses any of the games they will not only be giving up points, but those points to a team competing for a playoff spot for. That’s not to say if they lose any of the games they are guaranteed to miss the playoffs, but things became far more difficult for the Desert Dogs.
Through 67 games the Coyotes have earned 72 points. The Canucks and Flames are both above the Coyotes with 74 and 75 points respectively. Vancouver has played two fewer games than the Coyotes, while the Flames have played the same number of games.
In the Central Division, the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets both have the same number of points as the Coyotes. The Predators have played in two fewer games than the Coyotes while the Jets have played the same number of games as the Coyotes.
Fortunately, things aren’t completely lost for the Coyotes. Despite a drop off in play from the end of December through February, their 5-4-1 record in their last ten games is the same as the Flames, and better than the Canucks (4-5-1) and Jets (4-5-1). Only the Predators and the Wild have better records, both 6-3-1.
The Coyotes also will have to deal with far fewer back-to-back games as the season comes to an end. Arizona has already played in twelve back-to-back sets, and they will only have to play in one more than at the end of March.
Unfortunately, the Coyotes won’t be playing many games against “bad” teams. Of the fifteen games they have left, only the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose are completely out of the playoff race.
Coyotes fans should be rooting against the Flames, Canucks, Predators, Jets, and Wild for the rest of the season. The Edmonton Oilers or Vegas Golden Knights could theoretically slide down, but they have begun to distance themselves and it would require a major collapse for the Coyotes to overtake them.