It’s been a bad little while for the Arizona Coyotes. Despite still technically holding onto the final playoff position in the West Division, you can bet they won’t have it much longer. The Coyotes are now 20-22-5 on the season, have gone 3-7 in their last ten, and are only ahead of the St. Louis Blues in total points, not points percentage. The Blues aren’t playing very well either, but do have four games in hand on the Coyotes and sit one point back. So do the Los Angeles Kings, who are just five points back, while the San Jose Sharks have one game in hand and are just four back even after a seven-game losing skid.
The race for the final spot in the West seems to be one of futility and now the Coyotes are losing one of their most important forwards at the worst time. Conor Garland has been designated as “week-to-week” with his lower-body injury, not a great sign with just a few weeks left in the regular season. Arizona has just nine more chances to add points to the total and two of those matches are against the Vegas Golden Knights, who became the first team in the NHL to clinch a playoff position last night.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the Garland news is that he wasn’t even injured in a game. The shifty forward suffered the lower-body injury (which is believed to be his knee) at practice, leaving the ice on Tuesday and missing last night’s game (a 4-1 defeat). Garland is one of the more unappreciated talents in the league and arguably Arizona’s most consistent forward, with 10 goals and 32 points in 45 games this season. That trails just Phil Kessel’s 35 and means that losing Garland is a huge blow to the Coyotes’ offense.