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Tough schedule not helping Coyotes’ playoff chances

The Phoenix Coyotes (15-15) are running out of time in their chase for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot.

With 12 games left in this year’s lockout-shortened season, three points separate 12th place Phoenix (36) and the Edmonton Oilers (39) — current owners of the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference.

It’s crunch-time for the ‘Yotes, who will have to pull off an ending reminiscent of last year’s five-game win streak that sparked a run to the conference finals last season.

Given the difficulty of their remaining schedule, the Coyotes have their work cut out for them.

Phoenix has five home dates left, beginning with the Detroit Red Wings Thursday and the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night. They will host the fifth-seeded San Jose Sharks twice and the last-place Colorado Avalanche once in their final three home games.

Seven of the squad’s last 12 games are away, and all but one of those are against teams currently slated in the Western Conference’s top eight.

Phoenix is set to visit the fourth-place Vancouver Canucks Monday to begin the first of three remaining road trips, followed by games in Edmonton Wednesday and the Calgary Friday.

The team will begin its second road trip Thursday, April 18, at the St. Louis Blues. Phoenix will visit the first-place Chicago Blackhawks two days later and then Detroit to end the trip.

The final game of the season will be away at the Anaheim Ducks, whom Phoenix is 2-1 against this season.

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