Los Angeles Kings v Phoenix Coyotes

Schedule could cause Coyotes to be streaky next season

With the 2011-12 season rapidly approaching, the gang at PHT decided to take a look at all 30 NHL teams’ schedules. Each team’s highs and lows will be studied in detail to give you an idea of what the future might hold for each squad.

Note: Mileage figures via On the Forecheck’s “Super Schedule.”

Phoenix Coyotes schedule analysis

Total mileage: 49,192 (sixth highest total in NHL, but only fourth in the Pacific Division)

Back-to-back games: 13

Toughest stretches

You know it’s going to be a rough season when the season opening three game road trip barely registers a blimp on the schedule analysis. There are two stretches of games that Coyotes fans should circle on their calendars as potential pitfalls. The first comes in the middle of November when Phoenix embarks on a five game road trip against four very difficult teams. The face the Sharks on November 12, only to fly across the country to play the Leafs, Flyers, Sabres, and Caps.

The next tough test is an eight game stretch that starts on December 29. The Stars will play eight games in eight different cities over the course of two weeks. The quality of competition may not be the most difficult, but it’s never easy to live out of a suitcase for a prolonged period of time.

Easiest periods

Just like the team has extending periods on the road, the Coyotes also have a couple of extend stretches in Glendale. Early in the season (starting October 15), the Coyotes play 9 out of 11 games at home over the course of the month. They’ll get plenty of rest and will need to take advantage of the home cookin’ as they try to get off to a quick start. Later in the year, the Coyotes play 8 of 9 games at home between January 19 and February 11. Unfortunately, the teams visiting Jobing.com Arena are a little tougher the second time around—but extending homestands are opportunities to collect points.

Overall outlook

All in all, the Coyotes schedule is a complete mess this season. They may have one of the easier schedules (mileage wise) in the Pacific Division, but it’s still one of the most difficult when it comes to the entire league. With extended periods on the road, Phoenix could fall into funks that last for two weeks at a time. On the other hand, extended stretches at the Jobing.com Arena could help the Coyotes string victories together and spread hope around the Valley of the Sun. The trick for Phoenix will be to maximize the homestands and minimize the damage when they’re away from Arizona.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

Beagle
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Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below:

Stamkos close to game shape, but return might be weeks or months away

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) competes in the hardest shot competition at the NHL hockey All-Star game skills competition Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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Steve Stamkos began to practice again on Tuesday and he was back out there on Wednesday and Thursday, which some might interpret as him being close to returning. It seems premature to say that definitively.

“It could be weeks. It could be months,” Stamkos said of his timetable, per ESPN. “That’s the tough part.”

The problem isn’t getting back into game shape after undergoing vascular surgery in early April. He feels he’s already close to reaching that objective. The issue is that Stamkos is on blood thinners, which prevents him from taking any contact. It remains to be seen how long he’ll be on blood thinners.

For what it’s worth, Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy underwent the same surgery and was out for two months and the original timetable provided on April 4 for Stamkos was one-to-three months. So based on that, it sounds like it would be surprising if he returned anytime soon.

Bergeron, Kesler, Kopitar named Selke finalists

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron celebrates after scoring against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Will Patrice Bergeron join Bob Gainey as the only players to have ever won the Selke Trophy four times?

That’s a distinct possibility after the Bruins center was named as a finalist along with Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler and Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar.

The Selke Trophy honors the league’s top defensive forward and for three of the last four years, that distinction has gone to Bergeron. However, Kesler and Kopitar have been popular with the voters of this award as well.

Kopitar has finished second in the voting in each of the previous two campaigns while Kesler won back in 2011, though he finished outside of the top-five in each of the last three years prior to the 2015-16 campaign.

Among the trio, Kesler excelled this season on the draw with a 58.5% success rate, which was good for second in the league among forwards who took at least 200 faceoffs. Bergeron was up there too, winning 57.1% of his draws while Kopitar posted a 53.5%. Meanwhile, Bergeron ranked seventh in the NHL with 67 takeaways compared to Kesler’s 39 and Kopitar’s 43. Where Kopitar stood out was in plus/minus as he finished second in the league at plus-34. Kesler was plus-five and Bergeron was plus-12.

Kopitar similarly led the trio with a 57.4% Corsi For versus Bergeron’s 55.9% and Kesler’s 52.9%.

Capitals get Orpik back for series opener

Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik (44) celebrates his goal with teammates on the bench during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Washington. The Capitals won 4-3. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
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Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik missed half of Washington’s first round series, but he’s back in time for the opener against his former team.

Orpik last played on April 18 and was regarded as questionable going into tonight’s contest against Pittsburgh. He’s expected to be paired with John Carlson throughout the contest.

Washington’s other projected pairings are Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen as well as Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt.

Orpik was limited to 41 games during the 2015-16 regular season, but when he did play he averaged 19:48 minutes per contest. He also recorded 125 hits and 102 blocked shots despite missing half the season. The 35-year-old blueliner got his start with Pittsburgh and played in 703 regular season contests with them and an additional 92 postseason contests. This is his second season with Washington.