Arizona has had so much working for them this season when it comes to taking on teams in the Pacific Division. While they are 7-1-2 against teams from within the Pacific division, they are 11-15-2 against everyone else. Currently in the middle of their three game road trip against the Canadian teams from within the division (Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary), snagging points from each of these games could allow Arizona to help widen the gap a bit as all four of these teams are within five points of each other with Arizona on top for second place.
“This is going to be a tough road trip,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. “Every one of these teams is right there in the standings with us so they’re all going to be gearing up for us.”
The Coyotes have also bode well without two of their main skaters. Martin Hanzal and Boyd Gordon have been out since around Christmas. Both have played more than 28 games this season. Gordon does not have much stats to his name, but Hanzal’s 20 points and with both of their presence on the bench and on the ice can easily add a bit more depth.
Arizona, while playing well in the division, have also picked up points in eight of their last 10 contests. Struggling against the Chicago Blackhawks was a bit of a setback, but their offense has picked up tremendously scoring three or more goals in seven of those ten contests.
“One of the biggest things our young players have learned is to play consistently every night,” Tippett said. “For some of our players they bring the offensive skill set that is expected to contribute. We have players that have begun to find ways to find their own niche.”
Shane Doan has also had a week to remember and is also playing hot at the right time, Doan has scored five goals in his last three games, also while earning a hat trick against the Blackhawks. His two goals against the Winnipeg Jets surpassed Dave Halwerchuck as the team’s all time leading scorer. Now standing at 381 goals, Doan has picked up the pieces after riding the IR in early December.
“It was nice to get it quickly, get it at home and to get it in a win,” Doan said after setting the record against the Jets. “And right now it’s going in, so maybe I should shoot a few more.”
“He looks like a 19-year-old,” Olver Ekmann-Larsson said. “I feel like he can play a few more years on the ice.
While it is still early, the Coyotes can make things right if they can pick up points in their next two contests. It is also too soon for the Coyotes to be talking about setting up their own destiny, but winning games within the division can help provide the Coyotes a bit of comfort before they come home for seven straight home games, their longest stretch of the season.
“Being in this position this late can help the buzz for the franchise,” Tippett said. “The guys in the locker room feed off of it. When we have guys like Doan break records and our team playing well, we like getting noticed. It energizes those guys.”