One week ago, the Arizona Coyotes were in excellent shape. They were in control of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and seemed on track to advance to the postseason for the first time since 2012.
The Coyotes have lost five games in a row, the last four of which came on an East Coast road trip in which they scored a combined four goals. Entering Tuesday, the Coyotes find themselves two points behind the Colorado Avalanche for that final playoff spot, tied in the standings with the Minnesota Wild and three points ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks.
The good news? The Coyotes play all three of those teams this week, beginning with the Blackhawks in Glendale on Tuesday night. Arizona will then head back on the road to face the Avalanche on Friday and return to Glendale to play the Wild on Sunday.
If the Coyotes win all three of those games, there's a good chance they'll find themselves back in that second and final Wild Card playoff spot in the West.
The Coyotes' final three regular-season games will be at home against the Los Angeles Kings on April 2, at the Vegas Golden Knights on April 4 and back at home vs. the Winnipeg Jets on April 6.
"We can't look at our schedule. we just have to look at our next game (vs.) Chicago," second-year Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet told NHL.com.
"We're looking for some guys to have some big games for us. This is the time of year you're looking for big-time plays, and we still have time to get those plays. We keep getting opportunities and we've got to keep knocking on that door. That's all that we can do."1997 Sanders Jersey White Reggie Strip Throwback Reds 21 Baseball Stitched
The Coyotes moved to the Valley from Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1996, and they advanced to the postseason in five of their first six seasons in the desert. They failed to make the playoffs every year from 2002-09 before reaching the postseason in three straight seasons from 2010-12, including a run to the Western Conference Finals in 2012.
Hosmer Base Cool Jersey Stitched Baseball Eric Blue Padres New 30 But that was the last time the Yotes have tasted postseason hockey.
This year's team has overcome a tremendous amount of obstacles, including injuries and ongoing off-court distractions regarding the team's ownership situation.
Despite that -- and despite their current losing streak -- the Coyotes still have a realistic shot at the playoffs. But with just a half-dozen games to play, there is no margin for error.
"That's the season. You win those three and we forget all about this trip. You don't win them and you think back to this trip," Coyotes defenseman Jason Demers said.
"It's going to be playoff games the rest of the way. I think it's been playoff games for us, we've had that mentality these last 20 games. We just can't let off the gas."