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Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet already has team in playoff mindset

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Arizona Coyotes have not made the playoffs since the 2011-12 season.

No Coyotes fan will ever forget that year. It’s arguably the best in team history.

Arizona won its division for the first time in franchise history, granting the team the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

Unfortunately, the Coyotes lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals in five games.

Seven years later, the Coyotes find themselves on the brink of a playoff spot with a month remaining in the season.

“There’s 16 games left,” head coach Rick Tocchet told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo.

“This is playoff mode for us. Our mindset has to be playoff mode every game.”

The Coyotes are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday that snapped a six-game win streak.

“I just think our energy level wasn’t great,” Tocchet said.

“It wasn’t great for whatever reason. We had the day off and a good practice but half the team was not good. I think we just have to flush it down and make sure we learn from our mistakes.”

“They got two power-play goals and we were 0-for-5 on the power play. That’s something that’s been a sore spot. It seemed like we were just slapping the puck around. That’s something we worked on again today in practice — probably have to simplify a couple passes, shots with people in front. That’s usually the best remedy for when you’re struggling on the power play.”

While the team is currently on the outside looking in, the Coyotes still have to play five games against teams that are also vying for one of the last two playoff spots.

Arizona still has to play the Blackhawks twice and the Oilers, Avalanche and Wild once.

The Minnesota and Colorado games are the fourth and fifth-to-last games of the season, respectively.

“The closer we get to the finish line, the games are going to get harder and the pressure is going to be there,” Tocchet said.

“I want to alleviate some of the pressure and make them understand that I don’t want them to be too tight but they have to prepare themselves every day. Just trying to prepare these guys for playoff mode. The way you’ve prepared shouldn’t change because of the pressure of the game. I want these guys to understand that they can embrace and have fun with it.

“When there’s nothing on the line, that’s easy. I want it to be hard for us and that means pressure games.”

Burns & Gambo

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