Coyotes’ Rick Tocchet says break coming at a good time
Following the road game against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday afternoon, the Arizona Coyotes will not hit the ice again until Jan. 29 against the Anaheim Ducks, providing a much-needed break for a fatigued team.
“The energy level has been a little bit low … I think the schedule has caught up to us,” Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo on Friday.
The game against the Oilers will mark the team’s 27th road game this season, second to the Los Angeles Kings who will play their 28th road game of the season on Saturday night.
The Calgary Flames will also play their 27th road game of the season on Saturday.
Tocchet said the multiple hour trips are tough when the team doesn’t get two or three days off in between games.
“Every team has quirks in their schedule, I just feel that especially … these first three quarters, it’s not the most favorable schedule,” Tocchet said, adding he has been vocal about the scheduling.
Even with the tough schedule, the Coyotes have been one of the best teams away from home and is a big reason why the Coyotes are tied for first in the Pacific Division.
Arizona has a 14-9-3 record on the road, second behind the Washington Capitals.
However, the Coyotes haven’t had the same success on home ice, with a 12-10-2 record so far this season at Gila River Arena.
The Coyotes have only had two four-game homestands, the last coming when they hosted Dallas, St. Louis, Anaheim and Philadelphia in a seven-day span around the New Year’s holiday. Most are either two or three games.
Tocchet says the quick homestands could be an explanation for the team’s struggles at home.
“Sometimes you like to be home for a five, six-game homestand. You can breathe a little bit,” Tocchet said.
The Coyotes will get their chance to find a groove at home after the break, with a four-game homestand and five straight games on home ice in the middle of March.
TOCCHET TO COACH PACIFIC DIVISION ALL-STAR TEAM
While the players will enjoy a much-needed break, Tocchet is headed to St. Louis to coach the Pacific Division All-Star team.
He was named the head coach of the squad by the NHL on Thursday, replacing Gerard Gallant who was fired as head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.
Tocchet said Gallant called the NHL and recommended Tocchet take his position.
He will be serving as the only Coyotes representative at the All-Star game after goaltender Darcy Kuemper was chosen but couldn’t go due to injury.
While Tocchet wishes there was a Coyotes player on the ice representing the team, he believes the break will be useful in getting guys healthy and mentally recharged.