Will home be sweet for Coyotes?

Will home be sweet for Coyotes?

Published Jan. 16, 2012 10:58 a.m. ET

It’s mid-January, which means the Coyotes have made it through one of the most murderous stretches the NHL has ever concocted.

had a 25-game stretch where only once in that period have we not flown
to the next game, whether it’s flying home or flying away,” general
manager Don Maloney said. “It’s been an arduous schedule.”

prevailing sentiment was that if the Coyotes could keep playoff hope
alive into the new year, they’d be OK once they reached Martin Luther
King Jr. Day. Despite a disappointing 0-1-2 road trip, they’ve done
that. Phoenix sits just four points behind Minnesota for the eighth and
final spot.

Better yet, Phoenix has just 15 road games remaining, which means the other 22 games are at home.

“No question, the schedule turns favorable for us,” Maloney said.

only one problem. All this hopeful talk is based on one giant
assumption: that the Coyotes can actually win on home ice. Entering
Monday’s matinee against the Avalanche, the Coyotes were just 8-8-3 at
Jobing.com Arena. Only Western Conference cellar dwellers Columbus and
Anaheim have worse home records in the West.

Part of that record
may be reflection of the team’s travels. The Coyotes have not felt
rested at home because those home dates have often fallen in the midst
of difficult trips.

Part of the record is no doubt a reflection of sparse weekday crowds. But that’s not going to change.

a sputtering offense and some key injuries, the Coyotes have worked
hard to stay afloat. But it will be all for naught if they can’t close
the deal in front of the home fans.

“You work really hard in
those road games to have the chance to really pick up some steam at
home,” captain Shane Doan said. “We have to find a way to be better