There are two tough games ahead for the Coyotes. Short term outlook.
The team wasn't particularly pleased with its results when returning from the road four days ago, and today the road is where it goes again. How Arizona has been able to reset the dynamic in the four days in between has been rather encouraging.
With noteworthy wins on Saturday and Monday on home ice, the Coyotes have reclaimed some mojo.
"I think we felt as a team after Ottawa that these home games were going to be big points for us," saidConor Garland, who netted Monday's game-winner. "Obviously, if you look at the playoff standings, everybody's winning now. We had to get back to playing our style, we had a sense of urgency, and that paid off well for us."
The Coyotes held both the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders to one goal in their wins, banking big performances from their PK units, dependable goaltending, and timely scoring to knock off two playoff-worthy opponents.
FINAL LOOK: ARI - 3, WSH - 1
FINAL LOOK: ARI - 2, NYI - 1
Antti Raantastopped 64 of 66 shots he faced, and the penalty kill extended its consecutive kill streak to 18.
The team, in short, got back to its identity.
"Morale-wise, I think we've somewhat recently gotten back to our kind of game and I think it just shows people, the players that if you do the right things and you play the way we want to play you can be successful," said head coach Rick Tocchet of the two wins. "So, I think that's the morale booster - knowing that it works if you do the right thing, that's what I take out of it."
As of the team's departure for Texas, it currently possesses the Western Conference's second and final wild card playoff spot, though a win on Wednesday night could rocket them to as high as second-place in the Pacific Division.
Wednesday's game calls for the Dallas Stars, and a quick turnaround on Thursday will present the Coyotes with the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
Big games. Back-to-back.
"These are two teams who are heavily favored to go far, both similar in the way they play, both stingy defensively," said Tocchet. "Great goalies, stingy defense, they've got some defensemen that are mobile and St. Louis is a grinding team that has won a Stanley Cup because they smother you. We have to play our style against those two teams."
Woven deep into the said style of game that has factored into the Coyotes' successes this season has been top-to-bottom production, buy-in from every player on the roster.
"Every young guy here and every older guy here, we're all counted on, we need all 21 guys and that's the kind of team we are," Garland stressed. "We're built to need all 21 guys going, and for our structure, you can never take a night off."
The home stretch lies ahead for the Coyotes. Long term outlook.
"20 games left. You work so hard all year to get into position and now you've just got to keep the foot on the gas. It starts in Dallas."