Tippett Keeps Coyotes in the Mix
The Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes were both on the road playing powerhouse teams last night – the Coyotes in Pittsburgh taking on the Penguins (97 points) and the Stars in Chicago to play the Blackhawks (99 points). The results were very different. Phoenix pulled out a 3-2 win while the Stars dropped a 4-2 loss. The Stars looked like a team that at times was both mentally and physically tired, having played the night before in Dallas, knocking of the Winnipeg Jets 2-1. Having to fight through a ridiculous phantom goalie interference call that allowed the Hawks to score a power play goal didn’t help the Stars chances either. But the bottom line was the Stars were outshot 42-27 and only won 31% of their faceoffs. Phoenix on the other hand played a strong game throughout, out-shooting the Pens 29-25, blocking 18 shots and only taking one minor penalty (Pittsburgh had 5 minors). They did all this with their back up goalie Thomas Greiss in net after Mike Smith was knocked out of Monday’s game against the Rangers with a “lower body injury.” It’s undetermined when he’ll return to the lineup.
The Dave Tippett coached Coyotes continue to be in the playoff mix year after year, having made the playoffs three out his four years behind the bench, missing out only in last year’s lockout shortened campaign. The Stars are 5 years and counting since their last playoff appearance, and are on their third head coach since Joe Nieuwendyk let Tippett go, although I do think they finally have the right guy now in Lindy Ruff. I’ll continue to say that Nieuwendyk’s two biggest mistakes in his time as the Stars GM was letting Tippett go and not allowing Mike Modano finish his career in a Stars sweater (and no one will ever convince me otherwise).
The Coyotes continue to cling to the 8th and last Western playoff spot with 82 points with 9 games remaining. The Stars have 79 points and one game in hand, with 10 games left on their schedule. Phoenix has 5 home games remaining with 4 on the road, the Stars 4 at home and 5 road games. The last regular game of the season for both teams? Stars vs. Coyotes in Glendale. Who could want anything more?