Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 1/16/12

MONTREAL - JUNE 26: Oliver Ekman-Larsson poses for a photo with members of the Phoenix Coyotes organization (L-R) Assistant GM Brad Treliving, Director of Amateur Scouting Keith Gretzky, General Manager Don Maloney and Amateur Scouts Christian Ruutu and Steve Lyons after being drafted during the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 26, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Its mid-January, which means the Coyotes have made it through one of the most murderous stretches the NHL has ever concocted. Weve had a 25-game stretch where only once in that period have we not flown to the next game, whether its flying home or flying away, general manager Don Maloney said. Its been an arduous schedule. The prevailing sentiment was that if the Coyotes could keep playoff hope alive into the new year, theyd be OK once they reached Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Despite a disappointing 0-1-2 road trip, theyve 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. Theres only one problem. All this hopeful talk is based on one giant assumption: that the Coyotes can actually win on home ice. Entering Mondays 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 teams 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 thats not going to change. Despite a sputtering offense and some key injuries, the Coyotes have worked hard to stay afloat. But it will be all for naught if they cant 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 here.
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