The Arizona Coyotes went into this week full of hope. They had beaten the Los Angeles Kings to regain their playoff spot, and compared to the St. Louis Blues, Arizona has the easier schedule to close out the season.
But after dropping the Coyotes dropped their last two against the San Jose Sharks, there isn’t much room for hope. The Coyotes would need to be near perfect, and the Blues would need to have a complete collapse, for Arizona to make the postseason. And that doesn’t seem likely.
With chances of making the playoffs near nonexistent, players need to decide for themselves what they are playing for.
Some are going to be playing for pride, no sense going down without a struggle. Almost all of them are still playing for their careers, either with the Coyotes or with another team. Maybe, a few are playing tonight to keep the Vegas Golden Knights from finishing first and getting the easier matchup. All valid reasons to have a good game tonight.
The Coyotes’ slow start doomed them in their last two games like it has doomed them so many times this season. The Sharks were able to three unanswered goals to start the season, which you just can’t let happen.
And, we saw plenty of other problems on Wednesday that we have seen all season. The Coyotes’ failed to score on any of their power play opportunities, they weren’t able to score the third goal, they took far too many penalties. If it wasn’t clear already why the Coyotes are almost certainly not going to make the playoffs, Wednesday’s game provided you with ample reasons.
Unlike the Desert Dogs, the Golden Knights have been ramping up as they prepare to head to the playoffs.
They have won their past ten straight games, going back to their win against the Coyotes on April 9th. But if the streak started against the Coyotes, it should end against them too.
And while a ten-game win streak is impressive, more impressive than anything the Coyotes did this season, the quality of competition was not great. In addition to the Yotes, the Golden Knights also beat the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, and Anaheim Ducks. Their only really impressive win came this past Thursday when they beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Phil Kessel - In his first season with the Coyotes, Kessel had 14 goals in 70 games. This season he has 18 goals through 50 games. Kessel has already had scored 20+ goals in 11 seasons, and he has plenty of time to make that 12.
Vegas: Max Pacioretty - Pacioretty had two goals in the Golden Knights' last game, giving him 24 on the season. This season he has two goals and two assists against the Coyotes.
Arizona: Antti Raanta (upper body), Conor Garland (knee), Tyler Pitlick (lower body), Jordan Gross (lower body)
Vegas: Nicolas Roy (questionable, undisclosed), Tomáš Nosek (undisclosed), Ryan Reeves (undisclosed), Patrick Brown (undisclosed), Jiří Patera (undisclosed)
Tonight's game at Gila River Arena will be at 7:00 pm Arizona time. It will air on ESPN+, Bally Sports Arizona+, and Fox Sports 910 AM.