Arizona Coyotes miss playoffs for 7th straight season
The Colorado Avalanche reached overtime against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night, giving them one point and eliminating the Arizona Coyotes from playoff contention. It’s the seventh straight year Arizona has missed the playoffs.
The Coyotes were mathematically eliminated on the second-to-last gameday of the season with 86 points in the standings in what has been their most successful campaign since 2013-14, when the Coyotes had 89 points but missed the playoffs.
Since they were in the Western Conference Finals in 2012, this season was just the second time in seven years that Arizona eclipsed the 80-point mark, though the Coyotes were on pace to do it in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Arizona’s 39 wins in 2018-19 are the most since 2012.
Arizona’s fall from playoff contention arguably began on March 29, when the Coyotes dropped a critical game against the Avalanche in the shootout. That meant the Coyotes no longer controlled their destiny, and from there, a win over the Wild, a loss to the Kings and Colorado earning one more point meant Arizona would not advance.
Prior to the shootout loss in Colorado, the Coyotes also went 0-3-1 on an important four-game road trip that spanned from March 18 to March 24. That left the door open for Colorado to surge back, and the Avalanche now make the playoffs in back-to-back years but for only the third time in nine years.
The Coyotes played their season with the disadvantage of a seemingly unprecedented amount of injuries, starting in the offseason when Jakob Chychrun and Christian Dvorak were still recovering from prior injuries, and continuing in training camp when Alex Galchenyuk got hurt. The team’s starting netminder, Antti Raanta, suffered a long-term injury in November, and things only got worse from there.
Forwards Vinnie Hinostroza, Derek Stepan, Brad Richardson, Michael Grabner and Nick Schmaltz and defenseman Jason Demers were among the other players to miss significant time.
Prior to Thursday’s action, the Coyotes were ranked first in penalty kill percentage and tied for the fifth-fewest goals against in the NHL.
But their goal-scoring was a problem all season as their power play through 80 games ranked 25th at 16.2 percent, and their 203 goals for was the third-lowest total in the league. It bit them once again on Tuesday against the LA Kings, who beat Arizona 3-1 despite the Coyotes having 50 shots on goal.
The season could reasonably be seen as a step forward from years prior, but the result was nonetheless another missed playoff. The Coyotes will look to build on what they’ve done already to secure a playoff spot next year.