Found March 23, 2012 on centericechat.com:
Tampa_bay_lightning_b521


The Dallas Stars suffered a tough 2-1 loss to the hands of the Vancouver Canucks tonight, setting up the perfect opportunity for the Phoenix Coyotes to not only get back into the top 8, but launch into the third seed with the Pacific Division.

There’s just eight games left for the Stars, and there’s plenty of reasons why the wheels may fall off at the end. But don’t expect them to miss the playoffs by any means. Here’s the breakdown:

Mike Smith has been one of the many reasons for the Coyotes to remain contenders in the Pacific Division. Phoenix has the odds to take the No. 3 seed for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

SCHEDULES

Dallas Stars: Five of eight games are against teams with a lower point total, including two against the Flames, and two against the struggling San Jose Sharks and one against the Edmonton Oilers.

Phoenix Coyotes: They may have just seven games left, but the odds are stacked in their favour. Five of these teams are under-performing the Dave Tippett’s men. The final stretch includes two against the Sharks, and one against the Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks.

Five of the final seven are also home games. Phoenix is 18-12-6 on the ice in Glendale, Ariz.

Calgary Flames: With tonight’s 3-2 overtime loss, the Flames have seven games to go. The Anaheim Ducks are their only under-performing opponent in the stretch. The others: Vancouver Canucks, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and the Dallas Stars twice.

PLAYERS

The Coyotes are 4-5-3 on this month, so far. It’s not great, but they’ve been able to get the additional overtime or shoot out loss point, and it’s made a difference.

Guys like Raffi Torres and Oliver Ekman-Larsson have been able to step up lately. Meanwhile, goaltender Mike Smith achieved a first-ever 20-goal and 30-goal season this year. Despite a rough patch earlier this month, he’s been able to recompose during the season. Much different from the Smith we saw in Tampa Bay in previous years.

Final result: The Coyotes have what it takes to rebound in the division race, and tonight’s 3-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche is a good place to start. Look for San Jose to push with two games apiece against the Coyotes, Stars and Flames. There are too many variables out there, but if the Sharks can grab four of those six, they may compete with the Avalanche and Stars for the bottom two spots. Meanwhile, the Flames have the highest odds in terms of schedule, and lowest expectations to add. They may be on the outside by season’s end.

Matthew Wilson is editor of Center Ice Chat. Follow him on Twitter @Mattjw24. Be sure to also Like us on Facebook and to Follow our Tumblr page. If you'd like to contribute, or appear as a guest columnist, please email us at CenterIceChat@gmail.com.

Share

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Torres steps up in Doan-less Coyotes' big win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Even before Coyotes captain Shane Doan's three-game suspension was handed down Wednesday, more than one player mentioned that the looming penalty just meant other guys needed to bring a little something extra. "At the end of the day, it's going to be a chance for other guys to step up coming down the stretch," left wing Raffi Torres said at the...

Coyotes will host surging Avs without Doan

Following a nearly perfect February, wins have been hard to come by this month for a Phoenix Coyotes team in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Making matters worse, they'll have to host the surging Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night without their captain. The NHL suspended Phoenix right wing Shane Doan three games Wednesday for elbowing Jamie Benn in the head...

Coyotes' Smith gets 100th victory

Mike Smith made 39 saves for his 100th NHL victory, and Daymond Langkow, Kyle Chipchura and Raffi Torres scored to help the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Thursday night. Phoenix moved into seventh place in the Western Conference and matched Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles with 86 points. The Coyotes have played one more game than the Kings. Colorado is...

NHL suspends Doan three games

Phoenix Coyotes forward Shane Doan has been suspended for three games because he elbowed Dallas' Jamie Benn on Tuesday night. The NHL announced Doan's punishment on Wednesday night and says he will give up more than $166,000 in pay for the elbow, which happened nearly six minutes into the second period of the game Dallas won 4-3 in a shootout. Doan was assessed a two-minute...

Doan gets 3-game suspension for elbow

Watch a video clip of the incident and hear Brendan Shanahan's explanation for the punishment. Phoenix Coyotes forward Shane Doan has been suspended for three games and will forfeit 166,463.40 for elbowing Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn during Tuesday night's game in Dallas. Doan, who received a three-game suspension in October 2010, is classified as a repeat offender...

NHL playing crutch to other franchises during Coyotes' troubles

It hasn't been a very pleasant three or four seasons for Phoenix Coyotes fans. The reason? It's as plain as the empty seats in Jobing.com Arena on a weeknight game -- relocation rumors have hovered over the team for so long it's a miracle that fans haven't been given Prozac as a game day giveaway. It doesn't matter that they're owned by the NHL; the league...

Coyotes battle Sharks for playoff contention

The Phoenix Coyotes and San Jose Sharks remain in the thick of a four-team race for the Pacific Division crown that seems likely to come down to the wire. With each team unable to afford leaving points on the table, the Coyotes visit HP Pavilion seeking a fourth consecutive win over the Sharks on Saturday night. The Coyotes (37-26-12) and Los Angeles are tied atop the Pacific with...

NHL suspends Coyotes captain Doan 3 games

The NHL suspended Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan three games for elbowing Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn in Tuesday's game. Doan was punished as a repeat offender. He also was suspended three games in October 2010 for a dangerous hit, and last week was fined $2,500 for a boarding penalty. The incident occurred during the second period of Dallas' 4-3 shootout victory...

Coyotes' Doan Gets a Three-Game Ban

Shane Doan is the latest player to book a suite at the Shanaban Hotel. The Coyotes captain was suspended for three games, following a hearing regarding his elbow on the Stars' Jamie Benn during Tuesday night's contest. While it's going to be tough for the slipping Coyotes to maintain traction in the Western Conference playoff chase, by losing their captain and third...

Shane Doan hit on Jamie Benn

I can find no reason the NHL shouldn't suspended the Coyotes forward Shane Doan for this bush league, unnecessary and dirty hit on Dallas forward Jamie Benn. I also don't see how anyone can defense this hit? Rightfully so, Shane Doan has a hearing this afternoon with the department of players safety this afternoon. Anyone want to guess on what kind of a suspension...

Avalanche-Coyotes Preview

Following a nearly perfect February, wins have been hard to come by this month for a Phoenix Coyotes team in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Making matters worse, they'll have to host the surging Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night without their captain. The NHL suspended Phoenix right wing Shane Doan three games Wednesday for elbowing Jamie Benn in the head...

3 Game Suspension For Shane Doan

Brendan Shanahan explains the suspension.

Coyotes-Sharks Preview

The Phoenix Coyotes and San Jose Sharks remain in the thick of a four-team race for the Pacific Division crown that seems likely to come down to the wire. With each team unable to afford leaving points on the table, the Coyotes visit HP Pavilion seeking a fourth consecutive win over the Sharks on Saturday night. The Coyotes (37-26-12) and Los Angeles are tied atop the Pacific with...
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.