The Arizona Coyotes return to the postseason came to a sputtering close on Wednesday, falling at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche by a final of 7-1 for the second consecutive game to cap off the series in five games.
The Avs were a superior team throughout, scoring 14 goals and going a whopping 6-for-11 on the power play in the final two games while pelting 65 shots at both Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta. The Coyotes committed two penalties in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s game, leading to a rocky start that would continue on.
After a promising qualifying round, the team was “embarrassed” as head coach Rick Tocchet described after game four. That performance followed through to game five, where the Yotes’ were wallopped for a second straight game.
“We were overmatched. For this game, you take three penalties right off the bat,” Tocchet said. “You can’t do that against Colorado and what’s frustrating is they just aren’t smart penalties. We knew we had to get a good start. We had no answer for (Nathan) MacKinnon the whole series, and we collectively had a bunch of guys that just did not play well. Quite frankly, I am not sure where there minds were…For about a week here, we had a tough time.”
There wasn’t much to analyze from the series. The Avalanche dominated and are clearly on their way to a legitimate Stanley Cup run as a contender. The Coyotes were outmatched on a number of fronts, and still have steps to take.
Now though, the question is, what’s next? Interim General Manager Steve Sullivan is serving as acting GM after John Chayka parted ways with the organization in late July right before the postseason.
Does Sullivan stay or are there other options? Will star forward Taylor Hall be re-signed as he becomes a free agent? What players will be moved? A lot of these questions are up in the air, and they’ll have to be sorted out over the coming months.
Ultimately, the entirety of the 2019-20 season can be taken in a variety of ways. For a brief window in the first half of the season, a time that seems so distant now, the Coyotes were among the NHL’s best teams in the west, at one point in contention for the Pacific Division lead.
However, the second half piled up with more losses, and it was a grind to try and earn a postseason berth. If not for the Stanley Cup Qualifier and the pandemic, it would have been an uphill climb for the eighth seed.
Regardless, the Coyotes made the postseason for the first time in eight years and won a series, but if the Colorado were any indication, there is still a long way to go, and a lot of questions to be answered.
“We have a lot of work to do, but I am glad we got this experience,” Tocchet said. “It’s going to help a lot of our players to know what it’s going to take.”