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Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 3:50 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Coyotes try to solve Canucks to cap amazing month

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Coyotes will shoot for an 11-0-1 February to cap an incredible month that shot them from 12th place in the Western Conference to third on Tuesday when they meet the Vancouver Canucks -- the only team to take a point away from Phoenix this month with a 2-1 shootout win over backup goalie Jason LaBarbera on Feb. 13 in Vancouver.

The Coyotes are 5-1-1 against Western Canadian teams this season, but still looking for their first win over the Canucks, who humbled Phoenix 5-0 in Glendale way back on the day after Thanksgiving.

What's most amazing about the Coyotes' streak is they have pulled it off with as many as six regulars out of the lineup -- and five will miss the Vancouver game. Defensemen Rostislav Klesla (upper body), Derek Morris (leave of absence, family illness) and David Schlemko (foot) all remain out but could be back within a week, and forwards Kyle Chipchura (wrist) and Gilbert Brule (upper body) are also still out.

The addition of Antoine Vermette from Columbus and the play of young defensemen Chris Summers and Michael Stone have allowed Phoenix to keep rolling. Goalie Mike Smith will go for his 11th straight win and has allowed just 15 goals in 10 starts in February.

Here is how the Coyotes will line up tonight:

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Mikkel Boedker
Paul Bissonnette - Boyd Gordon - Taylor Pyatt

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
Michael Stone - Chris Summers

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 9:09 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Coyotes will feature patchwork lineup against Kings

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Coyotes 7-0-1 run during the month of February will undergo a stiff test Tuesday night, when Phoenix debuts a patchwork lineup featuring three players with less than 20 games of NHL experience.

The Coyotes will be without forwards Kyle Chipchura (wrist) and Taylor Pyatt (upper body) along with defensemen Rostislav Klesla (upper body), Derek Morris (family illness) and David Schlemko (foot) when they face the Los Angeles Kings in a battle of teams fighting for playoff position in the Western Conference.

Winger Matt Watkins, a fifth-round choice by Dallas in the 2005 draft, will make his NHL debut and skate with enforcer Paul Bissonnette and Gilbert Brule on Phoenix's makeshift fourth line. Phoenix’s third defensive pair will consist of 2008 third-round pick Michael Stone, who made his NHL debut in Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win over Dallas, and Chris Summers, a grizzled veteran by comparison with 15 NHL games under his belt.

The Coyotes might be even more shorthanded but center Martin Hanzal, who suffered a lower body injury against the Stars Saturday, will be back against the Kings, keeping the No. 1 line with winger Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata intact.

The Kings get center Jarret Stoll back from injured reserve and he will play with Colin Fraser and Brad Richardson. Both teams have a grand total of one goal against the other in the last 125 minutes of hockey – with each coming away with 1-0 wins. Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick (1.87 GAA) and red-hot Phoenix goalie Mike Smith (seven straight wins, 2.25 GAA) will try to keep that trend going.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 3:52 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Pacific rivals Coyotes, Kings square off again

The Coyotes and Kings get together again just five days after Mike Smith posted a 1-0 shutout in Los Angeles that will be more remembered for the fisticuffs than the finesse.

After Kings captain Dustin Brown leveled Phoenix defenseman Rusty Klesla with a high hit in the first period, Phoenix captain Shane Doan was right there to stick up for his teammate and instigate a fight. That was the first of four brawls in the game -- not a normal occurrence for a Phoenix team that had only 12 fighting majors all season. Will this be Round 2?

The Kings have to make sure they keep their eyes on the ball. While their offense continues to slump, the Coyotes are 7-0-1 in their last eight games and have moved from 12th place past Los Angeles and into seventh in the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Kings and Flames. Phoenix will visit Calgary on Thursday.

The Coyotes, however, will enter this game shorthanded. On defense, Klesla is still out and Derek Morris has been given a leave of absence to deal with a family issue. David Schlemko is on track to return early from a foot surgery, but is still a week away. That leaves Chris Summers (15 NHL games) and Michael Stone, who made his debut in Saturday's 2-1 overtime win over Dallas, as the third defense pair again tonight.

Up front the Coyotes are hoping to have both forward Taylor Pyatt (upper body) and center Martin Hanzal (lower body) available tonight. Pyatt is expected to play, while Hanzal is a game-time decision. Hanzal left Saturday's game with the injury and if he doesn't play, the absence will have a domino effect throughout the top three lines.

One player Phoenix won't have is center Kyle Chipchura, who suffered a wrist injury against the Kings and will miss at least a week. Chipchura has been an integral part of Phoenix's fourth line.

The good news is Smith is healthy. The Coyotes goalie has won seven straight starts with a 0.99 goals-against average, including the 28-save shutout in Los Angeles. Smith has allowed one goal in his last two games against the Kings -- and it was a controversial overtime goal with three different Kings players standing in the crease that was the difference in another 1-0 game.

Here's how tonight's lineups could look:

COYOTES


Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon - Shane Doan
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Mikkel Boedker
Paul Bissonnette - Kyle Chipchura - Gilbert Brule

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
Michael Stone - Chris Summers

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

KINGS


The Kings should have Jarrett Stoll, activated off injured reserve today, back in the lineup and coach Darryl Sutter is talking about mixing up his lines that continue to struggle offensively. This is what the Kings looked like in the last game, but changes are coming.

Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jordan Nolan
Kyle Clifford - Andrei Loktionov - Trevor Lewis
Dustin Penner - Colin Fraser - Brad Richardson

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Jack Johnson
Davis Drewiske - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier

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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 3:06 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flames, Coyotes

Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Calgary Flames and Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena:

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Michael Cammalleri - Blair Jones - Blake Comeau
Lance Bouma - Michael Backlund - Krys Kolanos
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
T.J. Brodie - Cory Sarich

Leland Irving
Miikka Kiprusoff

After collecting the 300th win of his career against his former team last night in San Jose, Kiprusoff is expected to take the night off and Irving will get the start against the Coyotes. Calgary will play the Coyotes four times in the final third of the season and the teams are side-by-side in the standings. The winner of the series could have a lot to do with who has the best chance at a playoff spot. The Flames dress only 12 forwards with ex-Coyote Lee Stempniak (ankle) and Curtis Glencoss (knee) both out indefinitely.

COYOTES
Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon - Shane Doan
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Mikkel Boedker
Taylor Pyatt - Kyle Chipchura - Gilbert Brule

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Rostislav Klesla
Derek Morris - Michal Rozsival

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

The Coyotes are looking for a their fourth win in six days after Tuesday 4-1 win in Dallas. The six points in four days allowed the Coyotes to leap past three teams and move back into the playoff picture. The line of Whitney, Hanzal and Vrbata has produced 8 goals and 22 points in the last six games. The Coyotes are missing only defenseman David Schlemko, who is out for the season following foot surgery.


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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 3:40 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Red Wings, Coyotes

Here's how the lineups project for tonight's game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings at Jobing.com Arena:

RED WINGS

Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Danny Cleary
Cory Emmerton - Justin Abdelkader - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Joey MacDonald
Ty Conklin

The Red Wings will have MacDonald make his first NHL start in goal this season tonight against the Coyotes. With starter Jimmy Howard out with a broken right index finger and Conklin struggling in the first period in Edmonton on Saturday, MacDonald came on for the final two periods and overtime to stop 22 of 23 shots and give his team a chance to steal a point in the 5-4 loss to the Oilers.

Stuart missed the morning skate with a touch of the flu but is expected to go. Mike Commodore would be the replacement if Stuart is a scratch.

Cleary, an ex-Coyote, cut his morning skate short due to a sore left knee, but will likely take part in his 800th NHL game tonight. If Cleary sits, Jan Mursak would get the start.

COYOTES

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon - Shane Doan
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Mikkel Boedker
Taylor Pyatt - Kyle Chipchura - Gilbert Brule

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Rostislav Klesla
Derek Morris - Michal Rozsival

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

The Coyotes are looking for a second big win in three days after Saturday’s 5-3 win over San Jose. Each of Phoenix’s top six forwards had two-point games and Smith bounced back from a back loss to Anaheim with 32 saves. With Morris back in the lineup, the Coyotes are missing only defenseman David Schlemko, who is out for the season following foot surgery.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 4:04 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Senators, Coyotes

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Ottawa Senators visit the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena:

SENATORS
Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Bobby Butler
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Kaspars Daugavins - Zenon Konopka - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Alex Auld

Injuries
C Peter Regin (shoulder), indefintely
C Jesse Winchester (concussion), indefinitely
D Brian Lee (lower body), indefinitely
 
Turris will make his return to Phoenix for the first time since a Dec. 17 trade with the Senators. He was booed while he was a Coyote, so don't expect that to change tonight. Anderson was pulled in Monday's loss to the Kings, but is expected to start tonight.

COYOTES

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Marc-Antoine Pouliot - Mikkel Boedker
Raffi Torres - Kyle Chipchura - Gilbert Brule

Keith Yandle - Rostislav Klesla
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Adrian Aucoin
Michal Rozsival - Chris Summers

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

Injuries
D David Schlemko (foot), out for the rest of the season
D Derek Morris (lower body), day-to-day
C Daymond Langkow (face), questionable
 
Phoenix will get Aucoin back on defense -- just in time to replace the injured Morris. Langkow is a game-time decision and would replace Marc-Antonie Pouliot in the lineup if he can go, moving between Korpikoski and Doan with Gordon dropping down to the third line.
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 9:12 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Hanzal back in Phoenix starting lineup

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix Coyotes center Martin Hanzal, who has missed the last 12 games due to an upper body injury, is back in the starting lineup tonight as they take on the Detroit Red Wings.
 
The Coyotes were 3-5-4 in the 12 games without Hanzal. who will start the game between wingers Taylor Pyatt and Mikkel Boedker. Hanzal hasn't played since being hit in the head with a stick in a Dec. 23 home loss to the St. Louis Blues. Hanzal accompanied the team to Anaheim on Wednesday but returned to Phoenix to be present for the birth of his first child.
 
Marc-Antonie Pouliot, who had two assists in eight games filling Hanzal's center spot, was a healthy scratch.
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 4:14 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Red Wings, Coyotes

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Phoenix Coyotes welcome in the Detroit Red Wings to Jobing.com Arena:

RED WINGS
Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Danny Cleary
Cory Emmerton - Justin Abdelkader - Tomas Holmstrom
 
Nicklas LidstromIan White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl
 
Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin

Emmerton and Kindl are back in the lineup, replacing Jan Mursak and Mike Commodore. Howard leads the NHL with 27 wins and has a 1.98 goals-against average, and he's 6-0-1 with a 2.24 GAA in his last seven road starts against the Coyotes. He's won six straight starts overall versus Phoenix.

The Red Wings are 14-2-2 in Phoenix since the start of 2005-06 season.
 
COYOTES
Ray Whitney - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon - Radim Vrbata
Taylor Pyatt - Marc-Antoine Pouliot - Mikkel Boedker
Raffi Torres - Kyle Chipchura - Gilbert Brule
 
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Rostislav Klesla
Michal Rozsival - Chris Summers
 
Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

The Coyotes are 9-8-3 at home this season, but have won their last two home games by a combined score of 11-2.

Martin Hanzal, who has missed the last 12 games with a lower body injury, participated in an optional morning skate on Thursday (the Coyotes played Wednesday night in Anaheim) and is a game-time decision for tonight. His return would result in the juggling of at least three and possibly four lines.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 8:07 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Aucoin joins Coyotes' injury list

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Adrian Aucoin is enduring a rough month, much like his team.

Aucoin rejoined the Phoenix injury list after taking a deflected puck in the right eye during Thursday's loss to the Los Angeles Kings. He won't play when his former team, the New York Islanders, come to Jobing.com Arena.

Aucoin, who returned to the lineup just over a week ago after missing five games with a lower-body injury, left the ice in pain again when he took a puck deflected off the stick of Los Angeles' Mike Richards in the right eye in the first period. He left the ice and didn't return. The Coyotes lost 1-0 in overtime and enter Saturday with a 1-4-2 record in their last seven games

Derek Morris, who has been a healthy scratch for four straight games, will replace Aucoin in the lineup.

Aucoin joins centers Martin Hanzal (upper body) and Boyd Gordon (lower body) on the injury list. But the Coyotes will get one player back Saturday when another ex-Islander, Raffi Torres, returns from a two-game suspension for his Dec. 31 hit in Minnesota.

The Islanders lost 4-2 in Anaheim on Friday -- and also lost center Marty Reasoner, who suffered a broken right hand when he blocked a shot early in the second period and did not return.

The Coyotes play only their second home game since Christmas during a string that had them playing 10 of 13 games on the road. They head back out on Monday for another three-game Eastern trip -- they visit the New York Rangers, Detroit and Columbus. By next weekend, they will have played 26 of their first 46 games on the road.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 8:39 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Coyotes missing key players vs. Bruins

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes will play in front of a rare full house tonight at Jobing.com Arena. Too bad they can't say the same thing about their roster.
 
Goalie Mike Smith and centers Boyd Gordon and Martin Hanzal remain out of the lineup as the Coyotes face the red-hot, defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins before a standing-room-only crowd that's expected to carry a northeastern accent.
 
Smith is back on the ice but has not taken part in practice since suffering a groin injury a week ago in Florida. Backup Jason LaBarbera, who has given up 10 goals on 76 shots in the three starts he's made in Smith's absence, will make a fourth straight start and face the Bruins for the first time in his eight-year NHL career.
 
Gordon (lower body) was placed on injured reserve as the Coyotes recalled 2011 Hobey Baker Award winner Andy Miele from Portland of the American Hockey League. Miele is expected to play in his sixth NHL game. Hanzal hasn't been seen since taking a David Backes stick to the head on Saturday night; he's out with an upper body injury.
 
The Coyotes will also be without veteran defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who will miss his fifth straight game with a lower-body injury. Aucoin took part in the optional skate Wednesday morning and was expected to dress, but was a late scratch. Derek Morris will play in his stead.
 
Tuukka Rask, who comes into the game with back-to-back shutouts and a 152-minute shutout streak, will make his third straight start as the Bruins go for their seventh straight win. Boston has won nine of its last 10 road games.
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Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins