The Arizona Coyotes are facing an uphill battle to get to the postseason, and they’ll need help from their NHL brethren to get there.
The most critical stretch of games of the season begins tomorrow night for the Arizona Coyotes (67 games and 72 points) with a visit to Canada to face the Vancouver Canucks (65 games and 74 points). The Canucks sit precariously in the top wild card position, having lost their past three games and ultimately being leapfrogged by the Calgary Flames (67 games and 75 points). The Flames are in fact who the Coyotes play next Friday after the game in Vancouver.
The final game in this brief Canadian road trip occurs against the Winnipeg Jets ( 67 games and 72 points), who host the Buffalo Sabres tonight, on Monday evening.
At the beginning of the movie “The Patriot,” released in 2000 and starring Mel Gibson, Gibson utters the line “I have long feared that my sins would return to visit me.” I thought of that line as being apropos while thinking about the Coyotes’ formidable situation and their task at hand. Perhaps their past has caught up with them and, like often chasing games throughout the season, they’re chasing teams ahead of them in the standings now, and won’t be able to reach the playoffs without “outside” help.
When you lose games early in the season, it seems easy to dismiss a poor performance as a one-off, an aberration, rather than a sign of something wrong with the team. There isn’t enough time to see patterns emerge or to identify inconsistencies in systems or combinations of players yet. With a sample size of 67 games, however, and hopefully learning from your past successes and failures, there should be no surprises.
Has it ever entered the minds of the Coyotes’ faithful that maybe the team is just not good enough to forge ahead and battle through to the playoffs?
With the ‘Yotes, is what we saw during the season what we’re about to see in the next 15 games? It’s hard to tell when the season’s common denominator has been inconsistent play throughout the year. Regardless, the performance of the team is only one factor, and how the opposition fares may doom the Desert Dogs to their couches during the postseason.
We’ll have to wait and see if the Coyotes’ collective performances will be consistent enough (in a good way) to effectively challenge for a wild card spot right up until the end. I hope so.
I’m excited to see how it all pans out starting tomorrow night in Vancouver. Let’s go Coyotes!
Ducks 2020 Draft Spotlight: Noel Gunler Adds Offensive Creativity to 1st Round
The Anaheim Ducks’ recent point streak has slightly changed their overall projected draft spot. Swedish winger, Noel Gunler, could be worth considering.
The recent point streak by the Anaheim Ducks has slightly changed the environment the team may be working under when the 2020 NHL Entry Draft comes along. That is to say, it’s realistically pushed them out of the top of the draft, although there is a chance the ping pong balls will bounce in their favor. Specifically, tankathon.com gives them an 8.5% chance at the 1st overall pick and an 8.9% chance at 3rd overall.
It’s a small chance that is dwarfed by the bottom 3 teams in the league, but it’s still a chance. More realistically, however, the Ducks are likely to pick between #5 and #7 overall. Sportsclubstats.com gives the Ducks a 23% chance at the 4th overall pick, while tankathon.com gives the Ducks a 34.5% chance at the #6 pick, and a 26.7% chance at the #7 selection.
Given the overwhelming chance that the Ducks will be selecting in the portion of the draft, today’s draft profile is going to seem a little out of the box. However, what are the chances they keep winning games? Low? High? Who knows! But, we should be ready just in case.
With that in mind I’ll be looking at the player Anaheim Ducks fans will inevitably and affectionately call “the Big Gun.” That’s right, Swedish winger, Noel Gunler, is in the spotlight.
Gunler is one of the oldest players first-time eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, being born October 7th, 2001 (on my sister’s birthday, so according to his horoscope, he’s trouble). An offensively orientated player who can play on either wing, Gunler may have the most complete offensive game amongst draft-eligible prospects.
Noel Gunler Profile
Born: October 07, 2001 (18 yo), Lulea, Sweden
Draft Year Team: Luleå HF (SHL)
Position: RW (primarily)/LW
Height: 6’2”/187 cm
Weight: 176 lbs/80 kg
Scoring history for each season can be found at eliteprospects.com
Boston Bruins: Recent mean streak a sign that the Bruins mean business
The Boston Bruins have been upped the ante in recent weeks, showing a mean streak befitting of play-off hockey.
Suddenly no team is willing to take a run at the Boston Bruins, which is a distinct shift from the earlier part of the season. The team is truly showing it’s determination as a group to avenge last year’s Stanley Cup Final loss.
Yes, we may be taking a few more penalties, but no player is allowed near our goalie, no check is going to go without one in return.
You only need look at the way the Boston Bruins swarmed Edmonton Oilers’ winger Alex Chiasson after he hit Matt Grzelyck nastily last game to realise that this whole team is in it for each other and determined to go all the way.
Among the three Boston Bruins players that went over to Chiasson to share their displeasure was young defenseman Jeremy Lauzon.
He is exactly the sort of player we’ve been waiting for on the blue-line, playing with some real edge to his game and it could very well be that he proves as good as any trade deadline acquisition in terms of adding physicality and a bit of sandpaper to the third pairing.
Obviously, he still needs to ensure he finds balance in his hitting and physical play as we don’t want any further suspensions. If you recall, he spent two games watching on after a late check to Coyotes’ center, Derek Stepan a week or so ago.
Far from just being the one player stepping up though, it’s been the whole team. Brad Marchand is back doing what he does best; getting under people’s skin, both on the score-sheet and in general.
You only need see the war or words in the media between him and the Rangers’ Ryan Lindgren to know that he’s back to being the pest we love. Exactly the player that teams won’t want to face in the play-offs!
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Nobody has been allowed near Tuukka Rask since his most recent concussion and if anyone does encroach, they promptly feel the wrath of a Boston Bruins player. This is how we need to be to ensure he’s protected ahead of hopefully another deep play-off run.
Across the whole line-up, you’re seeing Boston Bruins players taking it up a notch; Zdeno Chara may have apologised to Brendan Gallagher since cross-checking him somewhat dangerously on the chin/throat, but on the ice, safe to say he meant it.
Name a player and you can guarantee they’re doing something to demonstrate that the Boston Bruins are determined to do whatever it takes to get back to the Stanley Cup Final this year and go all the way.