If the playoffs started today, the Phoenix Coyotes would be in, but just barely.
Monday’s 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings put the Coyotes two points ahead of the ninth-place Dallas Stars, while the team trails the next two Western Conference playoff teams by only five points.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who had an assist in Monday’s victory, told Burns and Gambo of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that it is Keith Yandle and Mike Smith who are coming up big for the team in the home stretch of the season.
“Yandle has been huge for us all year,” Doan said. “I will take Keith Yandle on my team every single day of the week. The guy just makes plays and when the game is on the line, he’s the guy you want on the ice because he finds ways to contribute.”
Yandle finished Monday’s game with a goal and an assist, bringing his season totals to eight and 41, respectively. His 49 points rank fourth among NHL defensemen.
“It’s not by accident that he is in the top five in defensive scoring because he drags the puck across the blue line, and as a forward it seems to be such an easy thing to do to stay in that shooting lane, but the further he drags it, the more you feel like you’re out of position and then finally he shoots it and gets it through,” Doan said. “That’s huge.”
If the Coyotes do reach the playoffs, it won’t be just their offense that gets them there.
Mike Smith, who has won six of his last nine games in the net, has stepped up as of late.
“He’s been unbelievable,” Doan said. “When he is really good, we are hard to beat. You look at over the years at goalies that have carried teams like teams off of the top of my head in the past 20 years, like John Vanbiesbrouck, Jon Casey and guys like Jonathan Quick whose teams weren’t necessarily that good but their goaltending was amazing, and they all got to the Stanley Cup final.”