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Coyotes GM Chayka talks resilience, competitiveness during playoff push

Coyotes' President of Hockey Operations and GM John Chayka is entering his third season in that role and has begun the organization's rebuild. (Jade Hanson/Cronkite News)


If the Arizona Coyotes’ 2018-19 season were to be summarized into one word, that word would be resilient.

With all the injuries that the Arizona Coyotes have suffered this season, being in a Wild Card spot on March 13 is the pure definition of resilience.

On Tuesday night, the Coyotes defeated the St. Louis Blues on the road to move one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild and into the eighth and final playoff spot. This win comes after losing to the Chicago Blackhawks 7-1 the night before.

“The calling card of our season is: we bounce back,” Coyotes general manger John Chayka told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. 

Over the past month, the Coyotes have posted an 11-4-0 record, including a six-game winning streak from Feb. 19 to March 2. Also during that stretch, three of the Coyotes’ 11 wins came in either a shootout or overtime.

“We’ve played playoff hockey for the last two months basically,” Chayka said. “Every game has been intense playoff hockey and [Tuesday’s game] was no different.”

During this playoff push, the Coyotes have not lost two or more consecutive games since their five-game losing streak in late January through early February.

“We’ve got a competitive group, and I think that’s the key,” Chayka said. “Find a way to win, that’s what this time of year is about.”

A lot of their recent success has been due to the outstanding play by goalie Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper’s .920 save percentage ranks 10th in the NHL and fourth among goalies with 40 or more games played.

“When he’s locked in, he doesn’t move much and the net is filled,” Chayka said. “He gives our whole team confidence and that’s a huge boost when you get goaltending like that.”

The Coyotes will continue their push for the playoffs at home on Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks.

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