Coyotes Preview: Road Work Going to Be Pivotal for Coyotes

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Coyotes Preview: Road Work Going to Be Pivotal for Coyotes
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Mike Smith of the Coyotes will need to be pivotal figures if the team wants to return to the NHL playoffs this season.

The Phoenix Coyotes are coming off of a week in which they obtained four out of a possible eight points. This week coming up is going to be difficult for the 'Yotes, as they start the week at home against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings and then embark on a four-game road trip with games against a difficult St. Louis Blues team before ending the week in Columbus for a tussle against the Blue Jackets.

The week gives the Desert Dogs a chance to breathe a little bit, as they will get away from the pressures at home and can focus on playing tough, physical road hockey, something that the Coyotes have been very successful at in the past few seasons under Dave Tippett.

The week also provides only three games and no back-to-back games, which will be nice for the team since they have had to play back-to-back games five times already in this shortened season. It should also allow, barring injury, Mike Smith to be in net for all three games during the week.

Phoenix has been pretty solid offensively over the past week. They scored nine goals in four games and had contributions from 13 players on the offensive end, led by captain Shane Doan's three goals last week and three points a piece from forward David Moss and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Although the game against Dallas on Saturday showed what the Coyotes could do defensively when they play well, the defense will need to improve. Overall, the Coyotes gave up 13 goals this past week, and goalie Mike Smith will have to play better (2-1, 3.66 GAA, .865 save pct.) this week than he did last week.

The Coyotes have to hope for at least three points this week, but capturing four points or more would make for a successful three-game stint.

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