On Friday morning, the Coyotes were seventh in the Western Conference standings with 45 points. Head Coach Wayne Gretzky believes it’s going to take about 50 more to clinch a playoff spot come April.
“If you go by past years, it looks like 94-95 is sort of what you need to be safe,” Gretzky said after Friday's practice.
Last season, the Nashville Predators clinched the eighth spot in the Wetsern Conference playoffs with 91 points, but with a change in schedule this season creating more cross-conference games, Gretzky thinks that number is going to climb.
“This year you play 15 games out of the conference, where last year you only played half that many,” Gretzky said. “I don’t know if that is going to affect that schedule positively or negatively in the West.”
This season, the Western Conference has an 81-44-15 record against the Eastern Conference. Last season, the Western Conference was 83-53-14 against the Eastern Conference. TIKHONOV OUT
Rookie forward Viktor Tikhonov
is out week-to-week after suffering an injury while blocking a shot during a Tampa Bay power play on Thursday night.
“I was trying to kill the penalty,” said Tikhonov, who has three goals and four assists in 38 games. “It was kind of frustrating after the blocked shot that they still scored the goal. Just from the pain, I could tell it was going to be something serious. I was just hoping that it wasn’t going to be that serious.”
Tikhonov plans to skate while injured to maintain conditioning.
“I hope to get back on the ice tomorrow,” Tikhonov said Friday. “I obviously can’t hold a stick yet. I want to stay in shape and try to get some strength back.”
The Coyotes don’t plan on recalling anyone from their top affiliate in San Antonio, and forward Joakim Lindstrom will fill Tikhonov’s spot in the lineup on Saturday vs. Dallas. MURRAY RETURNS
Center Garth Murray made his return to the Coyotes lineup on Thursday night, a day after being recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League.
“He gives us a physical presence in the middle,” Gretzky said. “I think that it’s important to have that. Good teams are made up of pieces to a puzzle. Every piece can’t be the same. You've got to have guys that have that grit and hunger, and Garth brings that. He blocked shots and is physical when he has to be. We are happy with the way he played last night and I hope that he keeps giving us that boost.”
Murray played on an energy line with Daniel Carcillo and Todd Fedoruk, playing 8:57 with a shot on goal.