The Phoenix Coyotes saw their playoffs hopes take a hit on Monday as they suffered a 2-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. An offense that had stepped up in three straight wins over the Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche went cold, managing only 19 shots on net. The shot total was their second-lowest of the season, and their worst effort since Mar. 6. While the return of Mike Smith will be a boost to the team as they try and fight their way into the playoffs, too many more lackluster offensive nights like Monday will have the Coyotes heading to the golf course come May.
For the fourth time in five games, the Coyotes failed to convert on the power play. They are now 1-for-15 over that stretch and continue to miss out on opportunities to strike with the man-advantage. Smith turned in a 39-save performance and did what he could to keep the team in the game, but was unable to record a second straight victory since returning from injury. Much like last season, if the Coyotes do make the playoffs it will be in large part due to the strong play of their goaltender, but he can’t do it alone.
Captain Shane Doan has two goals in the last three games and is stepping up the way a captain should when his team is fighting for a playoff spot. He could use some help from Radim Vrbata, who has cooled off a bit and only has one goal in the last five games. The Coyotes have nine games left in the regular season, and currently sit three points away from a playoff spot. Only two of their remaining opponents are out of playoff contention, and Smith will need to stay sharp and get a lot more offensive support if the Coyotes are to have any chance of returning to the playoffs.