For the Arizona Coyotes the playoffs have ended, leaving the team embarrassed after losing in five games to the Colorado Avalanche. That’s not the complete story, though. It was the way they lost that is so discouraging and has left questions marks as to where this team goes from here.
Arizona Coyotes Playoffs End in Five Games
While the Coyotes managed to win Game 3 by a 4-2 margin, they weren’t really in another game except Game 2 which they lost by one goal. The other three losses were by shutout or blowout.
The team needs to really do some soul searching over the offseason and see how to improve. Losing two straight games by a 7-1 score is totally unacceptable. Sure, some fans were ecstatic that they made it to the playoffs. Yet, in reality, they only got there by the pandemic caused 24-team qualifying round.
Certainly, credit is due to a Colorado Avalanche team who will likely compete for a Stanley Cup. They’re that good. With Nazem Kadri tallying four goals, and Nathan MacKinnon gathering three, the Avs completely dominated the Arizona club. The Coyotes helped the Avs by taking excessive penalties allowing the Colorado team to use their power play way too many times.
The other factor was the Arizona team completely left their goalies out to dry allowing numerous shots on net. They just couldn’t stop the Avalanche attack.
And this was an Arizona team that prided themselves on their defence and goaltending. They only managed eight goals in the five games to Colorado’s 22. It became apparent after Game 3 where the Coyotes actually took it to the Avs, that they weren’t the same team in the last two games. They couldn’t defend or score and just were overwhelmed in every sense of the word.
Colorado Avalanche Are an Awesome Team
The Avalanche can come at their opponent in so many different ways. This makes it difficult to keep one’s guard up. Just trying to keep up with the speed and level of play demonstrated by MacKinnon is enough to wear out any team. He breaks down defences so easily and if he doesn’t score, he sets up a teammate to do it. Kadri has really started to heat up too. He has six goals in the postseason and is one heck of a player.
The thing with the Avalanche is that they are probably the deepest team in the playoffs. Even with excessive injuries, they tend to still be right up there in the standings. There’s not much else to say, except that in this series they were the superior team by far. Arizona didn’t put up much of a fight and it ended in an ugly fashion being outscored 14-2 in the last two games.
Head Coach Rick Tocchet Not a Happy Camper
When your team doesn’t show up and the head coach can’t name one player who played well in a game, it spells disaster. And, it may mean that the general manger (whether it’s Steve Sullivan or someone else) needs to evaluate whether Rick Tocchet is the right man behind the bench. He certainly couldn’t get his team up to play against one of the best teams in the league.
For most players that wouldn’t take much motivation. Tocchet could be gone but may have survived had his team put in a decent effort. Most would think if the Arizona Coyotes playoffs had lasted at least six or even seven games and still ended, it would have been an accomplishment. Not the way they lost… that’s not going to fly well with season ticket holders or the ownership/management of the team.
While hockey is a sport, it is also a business. If your business continues to lose money, changes are made to correct that. In hockey, the head coach usually loses his job. After this debacle of a series look for not only Tocchet to be let go, but some players who failed miserably to go with him.
In All of This, Kuemper Was Still Very Good in Net
Darcy Kuemper faced an average of 34.2 shots on net, even despite not playing the third period of the last two games. He was peppered endlessly in the Nashville Predators series facing over 40 shots twice. Things didn’t change much in the Colorado series, as his defence was out to lunch on numerous occasions. Still, Kuemper stood tall and did the best he could. He’s one player and this is a team sport. His teammates abandoned him, quite literally.
The Future of Two Teams
As the Arizona Coyotes head back to the desert they can’t feel that they gave it their best shot. There will be some changes to the roster and most certainly losing Taylor Hall will be one of them. He stated he wanted to be with a winner. Arizona’s regrettable display of ineptness will not attract him to signing on to stay with a team like that. And that is a huge loss to the Coyotes since they gave up so much to get him.
If Tocchet leaves, most assuredly Phil Kessel should also go. He was injured and that depleted his offensive prowess. He was healthy for the postseason, yet showed little to earn a $6.8 million salary.
This will be an offseason of evaluations and changes if the Coyotes intend to be in the playoffs next season. For now, they’re heading home.
The Colorado Avalanche, conversely, are going places. They have all the ingredients to become a champion. They have shown their weaknesses are minimal and their firepower is near unstoppable. Watch them when they move on in the next round.
They’re that good.