When the Arizona Coyotes examine how they did over the 2019-20 season, they may look at the fact that their home record thus far is a meagre 7-7-1. That ranks them 29th in the entire league. If they can win more home games they would stand a much better chance to lock down a playoff position for the first time since 2012.
2019-20 Arizona Coyotes Home Record Needs to Improve
Most NHL teams try to make it difficult for visiting teams to come to their home ice and attempt to secure a victory. So why is it that the Coyotes who are fighting for first with the Edmonton Oilers in the Pacific Division so weak at home?
It could be the pressure that comes from being expected to win at home more than on the road. After all, you are playing in front of your home fans and are expected to win a fair amount of games. Not the Coyotes. They are a much better road team this season with the second-best record in the league away from Gila River Arena. Their stellar road record of 11-4-3 shows that.
They just completed a four-game road trip, winning three of them. Why can’t they do that at home?
There was much anticipation for the Coyotes season with the addition of forwards Phil Kessel and Carl Soderberg. New ownership was also added to give this franchise some stability and financial support. That is needed to attract free agents to the desert. This is especially imperative for a franchise which has had questionable ownership issues.
The Results Are Appearing
It seems to be working as the team is playing much better and in front of an average crowd of 14,125. That ranks them 28th in the league. That average has been the largest, at least thus far, since the 2008-09 season when they averaged 14,879 fans through the turnstiles. They have had three sellouts so far this season, which is encouraging. The fans will come if the product is worth spending their hard-earned money on.
They were not particularly a good team (36-39-7, 79 points) that season finishing fourth and not qualifying for the playoffs. Perhaps the influx of attendance could be explained by them being coached by legend Wayne Gretzky. While it goes without saying, he was not a very successful head coach. Yet, his popularity as perhaps the best NHL player in recent history attracted many fans to the arena. This writer can personally attest to this fact as I worked as an usher at the time. Many fans just wanted to get to the area behind the Coyotes bench to get a glimpse or photo of him.
On the Road, the Arizona Coyotes Are a Different Team
It’s tough to explain why the Desert Dogs record on the road is so outstanding. Sometimes players get to know each other better when travelling together. They go out to dinner, have time to room together when that is not true when they are home. They are with their families and feel more at home. Perhaps that could also mean there are more distractions at home than on the road. If you ask the entire Coyotes roster you may get some different answers on that topic.
One point is clear. They wouldn’t be tied with the Edmonton Oilers for first in the Pacific Division without their exceptional play on the road. Depending on that fact can be dangerous for future games. Most teams are better at home than on the road. There are only two teams, the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings who have worse home records. Both of those teams are not doing too well mired in 30th and 31st place respectively.
Head coach Rick Tocchet is just as puzzled with the team’s ineptness at home. He said so in his post-game presser following their 5-2 loss against the Calgary Flames.
Again, the 2019-20 Arizona Coyotes are playing much better this season, but that improvement needs to start happening on home ice as well. What could happen is their road play could start to decrease and if they don’t pick up their play at home, they will fall in the standings. Whatever is causing the team’s poor play at home, you can be assured that Tocchet will determine what it is and address it. Making the playoffs depend upon it.