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DDB: Idle Coyotes can clinch Thursday

GLENDALE — The Coyotes headed to St. Louis this afternoon
on a regular season-ending two-game trip that starts with
a match against the Blues on Friday night and concludes
with a game against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.

Despite being idle tonight, Phoenix could clinch its third
consecutive berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if the
Nashville Predators defeat the Dallas Stars in any
fashion. That game is being played at Bridgestone Arena in
Nashville. The puck drops at 5 p.m. (Arizona time).

Just before their flight to St. Louis, I spoke to some of
the Coyotes and they all said they would be monitoring
tonight’s game in Nashville and tonight’s game between
Pacific Division rivals Los Angeles and San Jose very

Captain Shane Doan summed it up best: “It’s pretty much
impossible not to care. We’re going to be very aware of
what’s going on around the League (tonight).”

With two games to go, the Coyotes are not only trying to
qualify for the playoffs but to win the Pacific Division
title for the first time.

“We still have a chance and we’re going to go for it,”
Doan said.

• Phoenix is 1-4-1 vs. St. Louis and Minnesota this
season, but the Coyotes are taking a clean-slate approach
to this weekend.

“We’ve had two good practices here so that’s a positive
sign,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said before today’s flight.
“The players recognize the situation and the urgency
needed, and the areas we have to clean up (for these
games). Now it’s just a matter of getting on the ice and
doing it.”

He added, “It’s a fun part of the year and we need to
embrace it.”

Despite having watched his team win three games in a row,
Tippett has not been pleased with the way his team has
played. Knowing this, I asked Tippett to identify a
victory in recent history the players could use as a
blueprint for success.

“Hopefully that game is tomorrow,” he said.

• Coyotes goalie Mike Smith will enter Friday’s game
seeking his fourth consecutive shutout. Smith has made 155
saves since last allowing a goal; according to Elias,
that’s an NHL high since saves were first kept in 1976-77.

I asked Smith to the explain the key to his recent

“I haven’t changed anything really as far as preparation,
I’ve just been going in there and really focusing on
making the first save,” Smith said. “The guys have done a
great job in front of me clearing the rebounds and boxing
out and stuff like that. But what’s gone on in the past is
done now. I’m just looking forward to tomorrow night.”

FYI, Friday’s game at St. Louis is being televised
nationally on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Contact Dave Vest at and follow him on
Twitter @davest4yotes.
For information on upcoming Phoenix Coyotes games, please