The Coyotes open an 11-game home stand Friday night at Gila River Arena. The match-up against St. Louis Blues will begin the longest home stand in franchise history.
Though the Coyotes are home, it's got to be all business, as far as head coach Rick Tocchet is concerned.
"They key to this whole thing is business," Tocchet said. "It's great to sleep in your own bed and it's great to see your family, that's what it's all about. But we've got to get to business when you get to the rink. We need a business approach."
The "home" setting is a welcome change, considering it is one of the few changes, for now. There has been little-to-no variety of late, opponent-wise.
Friday's game, a 7 p.m. puck drop, will be the Coyotes' fifth straight against the Blues. Arizona and St. Louis will play each other seven consecutive times, with games six and seven scheduled for Saturday (6 p.m.) and Monday (2 p.m). The unusual seven-game series-like match-up is due to schedule changes caused by COVID-19.
The Coyotes went 3-1-0 in the first four games in St. Louis. They earned points in four of six games this season at Gila River Arena.
"We wanted to have a good record on the road and I think we started to (establish) that last week," Derick Brassard said. "Now, we want to take care of business at home and we have to win those games. We just have to take it one game at a time. I think that's our mindset right now. We're just playing. We're playing hard, and we're having results right now. We can't change anything. We just have to play the way we've been playing the last few games, try to build our game. We're still early in the season, but every point is really important."
Tocchet downplayed a bit the current win streak.
"Three-game winning streak, that's great, but we have nothing to be high about," Tocchet said. "Other than the fact that we're confident and we like the way we're playing. We're coming up with some big moments."
Tocchet reiterated the need for a special focus at Gila River Arena.
"Everybody likes to be at home," he said. "You get to see your families, you're familiar, you sleep in your bed, that's the good thing. The thing that you've got to be careful with is that it doesn't become redundant. So, it's important for our coaching staff to keep things fresh. Maybe just switch a few things up here and there at home."
He also stressed the importance of the home stand. The Coyotes enter the night in fifth-place, one spot shy of a playoff berth in the West Division.
"But hey listen, this is a big stretch for us," Tocchet said. "Eleven games or 10 games, whatever we have at home. You've got to make hay. These are home games. Teams have to travel to us now, and we get to stay at home. So, we've got to make sure that our energy level is really high. We've been playing well in this building the last year, which is nice, but we've got to make sure we manage our rest. We can't get stale, we can't just go, 'Oh, we're 10 games at home, we can relax. The intensity has to be there, almost like a road mentality."
Conor Garland leads the Coyotes with seven points (3G, 4A) in the team's six home games.
"Right now, you just want to take advantage of it," Garland said. "Get your rest. It's nice to be home, it really is. We're very fortunate to play in Arizona. If you use it as an advantage, it works out well."
The Coyotes are 12-4-4 at Gila River Arena dating to December 31, 2019, scoring an average of more than three goals per game. Garland leads the Coyotes with 23 home points (12G, 11A) in that span.
Garland also is looking forward to an uptick in home rink ice time - even on days without games.
"It will be nice to get some practices in, especially someone like me. I like to practice a lot. Skating pretty hard in practice, it carries over to the game. So, I like using practices to get ready. We haven't had many recently, but if we can get some practices in and work on structure, that kind of takes away from thinking on the ice about stuff when you get into a tough situation about where you should be. So, have some good practices and try to make this a tough place to come into for the next 11 games."
The Coyotes' previous longest home stand was 10 games in 2005-06. The current 11-game home stand is the third-longest in NHL history. The Tampa Bay Lightning (2010-11) and California Golden Seals (1975-76) both played 12-game home stands.
"We know St. Louis is coming tonight, they're a championship team," Tocchet said. "Being at home means nothing unless you take advantage of it. It means nothing if you don't have a good first (period), good second, and good third tonight. To me, it's a business-like approach to maturity."
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