We’ve reached the point in the season where teams start falling by the wayside in the playoff race. The best the
can say at this point is that they are not one of those teams yet.
By defeating Edmonton, 3-1, on Wednesday in Edmonton, the Coyotes essentially eliminated the
, who would likely need to go undefeated the rest of the way to squeak in. That won’t be happening.
Given current projections that it will take 54 (or even 55) points to qualify for the postseason, it is also safe to write off the Nashville Predators, who couldn’t overcome a series of key injuries, a pop-gun offense and the loss of defenseman
in free agency in the offseason. The most points Nashville can achieve are 52.
We already knew Colorado and tonight’s opponent,
, were dead as well, but the Coyotes must avoid thinking that the
will roll over just because they currently sport a 14-21-4 record and
is playing in Pittsburgh.
In one of the handful of games that is sure to haunt the Coyotes if they do not qualify for the playoffs, Calgary scored goals 23 seconds apart from Iginla and
in the final minutes of the third period on Feb. 24 to turn what looked like a regulation loss into a 5-4 win over
at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Clearly, that can’t happen again if the Coyotes hope to extend their season, but at least hope is still alive after the gut-check win in Edmonton.
"We got the points, and we're still in the race," coach Dave Tippett said.
Here’s a look at the other teams in the race for the Western Conference’s eighth and final seed, along with their remaining opponents entering Thursday’s play. It’s possible that teams such as Minnesota, St. Louis and
could fall back into this race, opening up a second playoff spot, but for the moment, we’re assuming they will not suffer dramatic slumps and will secure their spots.
Detroit Red Wings
Record: 19-15-5 (44 points)
Maximum number of points they can achieve: 60
Current standing: 8th
Remaining opponents – Home (3): Phoenix, Los Angeles, Nashville; Away (5): Chicago, Nashville, Calgary, Vancouver, Dallas.
Record: 18-16-6 (42 points)
Maximum number of points they can achieve: 58
Current standing: 9th
Remaining opponents – Home (3): San Jose, San Jose, Colorado; Away (5): Calgary, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Anaheim.
Record: 19-17-3 (41 points)
Maximum number of points they can achieve: 59
Current standing: 10th
Remaining opponents – Home (4): San Jose, Vancouver, Columbus, Detroit; Away (5): Nashville, Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Jose.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Record: 17-16-7 (41 points)
Maximum number of points they can achieve: 57
Current standing: 11th
Remaining opponents – Home (2): St. Louis, Nashville; Away (6): Minnesota, Colorado, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Dallas.
THREE KEY OPPONENT STATS
1-6: That’s Calgary’s record since the Flames traded former captain Jarome Iginla to Pittsburgh on March 28. In that span, Calgary has been outscored 30-14.
Calgary is allowing a league-worst 3.46 goals per game. The Coyotes have scored eight goals in two games against the Flames this season and must continue that trend while goalie
shuts the door.
47.2: Puck possession begins with faceoffs, and the Flames have struggled in that department, posting the league’s third-worst percentage. By contrast, the Coyotes rank third in the league, winning 52.8 percent.
THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Since dealing Iginla, the Flames have embarked on a youth movement that includes Max Reinhart (21), the son of former Flame Paul Reinhart, and 20-year-old Sven Baertschi, an offensive talent who struggled with the Flames earlier this season. C Ben Street (26), D
(22) and LW Johnny Gaudreau could also get looks as the Flames finally embrace a rebuild that many analysts believe they should have started long ago.
The Calgary road trip is always homecoming for several Coyotes.
is from Halkirk (northeast of Calgary); forward
is from Calgary; and forward
is from Lethbridge (southeast of Calgary)
Picks to click: Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson has seven points (six assists) in seven career games against the Flames, including four assists in the clubs’ first two meetings this season. Doan has 43 points (15 goals) in 59 games against the Flames.