After making the postseason for three straight years the Phoenix Coyotes failed to make the playoffs in a shortened season. The team hopes to regain their form that got them all the way to the Western Conference Finals in 2012.
For the first time in a while the Coyotes have an owner and because of this will stay in Phoenix for the foreseeable future. The next 15 years to be exact. With an owner that gives the team more financial stability to make moves and obtain better free agents than previous years, the future is looking bright.
They also retained Coach Dave Tippett who has become the most successful coach in Coyotes history. Other than that the Coyotes have many returning players and added a few new players that make getting back to the playoffs highly likely even in a crowded Western Conference.
One of the problems last season was the inconsistent goaltending by goalie Mike Smith. With no training camp and a shortened season that may have caused a decline in his play it was his worst statistical season since 2008. His goals allowed per game increased from 2.13 goals allowed in 2012 to 2.90 goals allowed in 2013.
The team doesn’t seem concerned as they rewarded Smith with a highly lucrative 6-year contract. With a full training camp people expect the team to be much improved from last season. “I think the team will finish 4th in the Western Conference standings, and at least get to the second round of the playoffs,” said GCC student Javier Alvarez.
The Pacific Division has gotten more competitive in recent years and analysts expect it to field at least five playoff teams. According to some analysts the Coyotes will be that fifth team which would slot them as the 8th seed. However, in previous years 8th seeds have had success.
The LA Kings went onto win the Stanley Cup as the 8th seed two years ago. The team on a national level is seen as a club that has improved, but the Western Conference is seen as much more competitive than the Eastern Conference.
This makes it hard to predict who’ll exactly make the playoffs in the Western Conference. This is evidenced by some experts picking the Coyotes to finish as low as the 10th seed. They agree that the team will be better, but at the same time haven’t addressed their offensive deficienties.
Some students believe that Coyotes Captain Shane Doan has to stay healthy and have a more productive season than last year for the club to have success. “For the Coyotes to be successful this season Doan has to have a bounce back season, and the team has to be much better offensively,” said GCC student Raul Flores.
Last season he registered just 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points which is his lowest total since 1998. The team also relied on its denfese to win games last season without much offensive production.
They ranked 21st in terms of goal production which is a big part of the reason they missed out on the playoffs. During the offseason Center Mike Ribeire who had great success under Coach Tippett in Dallas was signed to help improve the offense.
In previous years the Coyotes have shut down other team’s offense, and scored just enough goals to win. However, this year they need to balance out the offense and defense to reach their goal of making the playoffs and hoisting the Stanley Cup.