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FRIDAY'S MORNING SKATE COVERAGE

COYOTES IN THE HUNT FOR A WHITEOUT

Friday, 03.14.2008 / 4:18 PM / Features
By Heath Price-Khan
It is always a good feeling to be in the thick of the playoff hunt and that is exactly where Wayne Gretzky’s Coyotes are after back to back home wins over the Ducks and Canucks.

With just eleven games to go in the season, the Phoenix Coyotes (77pts) have pulled to within three points of Vancouver (80pts) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. If that is not enough reason for Coyotes fans to start believing in a Whiteout, how about the fact that the Minnesota and Calgary occupy the sixth and seventh spots with just 82 points?

On Saturday, the Coyotes host an Edmonton Oilers team that has beaten them twice this year. However, it will be the first time during this five game homestand that Phoenix has played a team with less points on the season. Every player on this team knows they have to take care of business and leave Jobing.com Arena with two points on Saturday night.

For the Coyotes to make the playoffs, they will certainly need a little help from other teams in the NHL. On Thursday night, that is exactly what they got from the Atlanta Thrashers (6-4 win over Calgary), Los Angeles Kings (4-1 win over Nashville), and New Jersey Devils (4-3 shootout win over Minnesota).

By the time the Coyotes take the ice on Saturday night, they may have already received some more help. The two teams they are looking up at in the standings both face brutal road assignments. Scoreboard watching will begin at 10AM PST when the Nashville Predators (78pts) visit Detroit for a duel with the Red Wings who have the best home record in the NHL at 25-8-2. Later in the day at 4PM PST, the Vancouver Canucks face the Dallas Stars who have been dominant at home as well with a record of 22-12-2.

Other games to keep an eye on will be the New Jersey Devils visiting the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings in Minnesota to take on the Wild.

One thing is for certain, Wayne Gretzky’s team needs to handle their business at home and control what they have the opportunity to control.

After Friday’s morning skate, the Coyotes head coach addressed the media to talk about the showdown with the Edmonton Oilers.

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