My goal is to provide entertaining and thought-provoking articles and great videos. Thanks for visiting and I hope that you come again!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Phoenix Coyotes — Differences That Could Take Them Further This Year

As of Friday evening, the Coyotes currently sit in eight spot in the Western Conference with 89 points in 78 games. Tonight, the Kings defeated the Oilers while the Stars lost to the Canucks, and that puts the Kings at the top of the Pacific Division with 90 points in 78 games. The Stars are in seventh with 89 points in 78 games, while the Sharks are in ninth with 88 points in 78 games.

In the four remaining games for the Coyotes they will host the Ducks and the Blue Jackets and then go on the road to meet the Blues and the Wild. These four games will obviously decide whether they will be in the playoffs for the third straight year or whether they will be golfing early. In each of the past two seasons the Coyotes met the Red Wings in the 1st Round of the playoffs and fell short both years, although, they took the Wings to seven games in 2009-2010. If the Coyotes make the playoffs this year, will they be able to finally win a first round battle? While the team has been in Arizona, as the Coyotes, they have never won a playoff series.

Reasons Why the Coyotes Could Go Further This Year

  1. Mike Smith. Last year Bryzgalov played well in the regular season for the Coyotes but he totally collapsed in the playoffs. It was hard to believe how bad he played and he did not give his teammates a legitimate chance to win. It would be different with Smith in net. In 63 games thus far, Smith has a .926 Save Percentage, a 2.33 GAA, six shutouts and 34 wins. He is seventh in the league for Save Percentage, twelfth in GAA, eight in shutouts and fourth in Wins. Smith was previously with the Lightning but VP and GM Steve Yzerman made a huge mistake by not making an effort to keep him. Instead, Yzerman foolishly signed Roloson to a one-year deal worth 3 million, and in so doing Yzerman blew the Lightning’s chance of making the playoffs this year. I talk about Yzerman’s other mistakes in articles in the Lightning section of my site.
  2. Ray Whitney is in his second year with the Coyotes and is having the best year of his career (at 39 years old). He easily leads the team in points with 73 (23 goals and 50 assists), and also in plus-minus with an impressive plus-25.
  3. Radim Vrbata is second in team scoring with 58 points (32 goals and 26 assists), and has 11 big game-winning goals this year. He is plus-23, and like Whitney, this is the best year of his career (and at 30 years old).
  4. Raffi Torres has been a new addition to the Coyotes this year after signing a two-year deal as a free agent. Last year he was with the Canucks and he brings playoff experience to the Coyotes. Torres makes opposing players nervous because he likes to hit and hit hard. Nobody in the NHL likes to play against him. Torres also has some scoring ability when given the ice time and is good for 30 to 35 points a year.
  5. Lauri Korpikoski is fifth in team scoring this year with 35 points and has really come into his own the last two years. He has three short-handed goals this year and also three game-winning goals.
  6. Keith Yandle is fourth in scoring with 41 points and he is plus-4. This is his fourth good year in a row.
  7. Martin Hanzal has missed some games again this year but in his 60 played he still has 32 points and is plus-11.
  8. Captain Shane Doan is third in scoring with 47 points (21 goals and 26 assists) and is second on the team for game-winning goals with five. His point totals have dropped over the last four years and his plus-minus has too. This year he is second worst on the team in the plus-minus category at minus-11. Unlike Whitney and Vrbata, Doan has not contributed as much as he has in past years but he is a leader and will be there if they make the playoffs.
  9. Dave Tippett is an excellent coach. He was a great assistant coach for the Kings, a great head coach for the Stars, and has done well for the past two years with the Coyotes. In 2010 he won the Jack Adams award for best coach.
  10. If they make the playoffs, the Coyotes will likely finish in seventh or eighth; however, they could actually win the Pacific Division and finish third if the Kings and Stars falter. If the Coyotes finish seventh or eighth they would play either St. Louis or Vancouver in the 1st Round. Phoenix has won two of three games against the Canucks, but has lost all three against the Blues (with one remaining). So, a 1st Round series against the Canucks could be won by the Coyotes but would be more unlikely against the Blues. If the Coyotes finish in third they would probably meet the Blackhawks in the 1st Round; however, if the Red Wings continue to falter it is possible that the Blackhawks could take fifth position in the West and that would leave the Red Wings meeting the Coyotes for the third straight year in a row. The Coyotes have won three of four games against the Blackhawks this year, while the Wings have won two of three against the Coyotes, including one shootout. The Coyotes can beat the Blackhawks, and with Mike Smith in net they could give the Red Wings a really good fight this year like they did in 2010.
In one week we shall know if the Coyotes are in the playoffs. They would be a dangerous team to play.

TJ Stanley