The race for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is now over for the Arizona Coyotes.
After a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, the Coyotes were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
As part of the NHL’s realignment efforts in 2021, the postseason will consist of four teams from each division.
While the Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild have a pretty solid grip on the top three spots in the West Division, the Coyotes were jostling with the St. Louis Blues for the fourth and final spot in the postseason.
The Coyotes were in a prime position to grab that in the closing stretch of the season, but they lost 12 of their last 15 games. The Blues, meanwhile, made that push for the playoffs with five wins in their last seven.
That saw the Coyotes tumble to the point of needing to win out in order to make it, and the defeat on Wednesday sealed their fate.
Despite Arizona entering the season with low expectations and a few key names missing from last year’s playoff team like Taylor Hall and Derek Stepan, Rick Tocchet’s team was able to stay competitive.
The Coyotes were 19-15-5 before that poor stretch of losing.
Defenseman Jakob Chychrun had a breakout offensive season, entering play on Wednesday tied with Phil Kessel for the team lead in points at 38. He’s also second on the team in goals with 17.
Arizona’s strength, however, was always going to be the goaltending duo of Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta, but the two weren’t able to stay healthy enough. In the Coyotes’ 54 games, the pair only played in 38 of them, with Adin Hill and Ivan Prosvetov filling in as needed.
The Coyotes’ appearance in the first round of the playoffs last year broke a seven-year playoff drought, one that gets underway again after this season.