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Posted On Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 3:50 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Michalek back in Coyotes lineup against Canucks

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes remain stuck in a January funk, but they will have all hands on deck for the first time in months when they face the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

Defenseman Zbynek Michalek, out since Dec. 17 with a hip injury, will return to the lineup and give the Coyotes some much-needed stability. Michalek had played in four games since Nov. 14, and his shot-blocking and penalty-killing abilities have been missed by a Phoenix team that has gone 7-12-5 since mid-November after starting the season 14-4-4.

That was about the time Michalek first was injured.

"It's been a very frustrating season for me," Michalek said. "I'm happy to be back. I've been working very hard to get back in the lineup and I hope I can contribute to the lineup."

To make room on the roster the Coyotes place veteran defenseman Rostislav Klesla on waivers for the second time this season.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.11.2014 / 2:28 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Coyotes' Smith 'needs some work with his game'

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Mike Smith continues to struggle between the pipes and Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett will sit his No. 1 goaltender in favor of backup Thomas Greiss for the second time in three games Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks.

Smith was named to Canada's team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics this week, but on the ice things aren't going well. He stopped 25 of 28 shots in a 4-1 loss against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, and the game-winning goal by Kyle Brodziak was one Smith would like to have back.

"[Smith] needs some work with his game and [goalie coach Sean Burke] wanted to work with him for a couple days," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Greiss has played very well lately, so we're going to him tonight and we'll see if we can get a win."

The Wild jumped past Phoenix into the final Western Conference playoff spot Thursday but Tippett said he doesn't regret going with his struggling goalie. Smith has one win in his last nine decisions (1-5-3) and he has three wins in his last 17 starts. His goals-against average has risen to 2.90 and he hasn't given the Coyotes the consistent play they crave in net.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.09.2014 / 3:23 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Coyotes get Ekman-Larsson back, lose Chipchura

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's one step forward, one step back when it comes to the Phoenix Coyotes' injury situation.

The Coyotes will have defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson back in the lineup Thursday for an important game against the Minnesota Wild. Ekman-Larsson missed the past two games after a hit from behind by Derek MacKenzie of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 2. MacKenzie was suspended for three games for the hit, which led to an upper-body injury.

"We missed his smarts and puck movement and he will bring some energy. He's a top player for us," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "It was interesting in practice [Wednesday], it looked like the rest has done him some good. He has a lot of energy and you could tell before the injury that it was down a little bit. We rely on that a lot."

As Ekman-Larsson returns, Phoenix will be without center Kyle Chipchura against the Wild. Chipchura sustained a lower-body injury during a 6-0 win Tuesday against the Calgary Flames and will miss his first game this season. Tim Kennedy, a healthy scratch for the past two games, will replace Chipchura on the fourth line.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 4:12 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Road to Sochi blog

Selection by Canada overwhelming for Coyotes' Smith

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When Mike Smith woke up Tuesday morning, there were already two Canadian Olympians in his house.

It took less than 10 minutes for that number to increase.

With his wife and 2010 Canadian Olympic skier Brigitte (Acton) Smith and mother-in-law, 1972 Olympian Diane Pratte looking on, Smith took a phone call from Team Canada Associate Director of Player Personnel Doug Armstrong. When the tears on his face converged with the ear-to-ear smile, everyone knew he had been selected to join Carey Price and Roberto Luongo as the goaltenders for Canada for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"I was trying to hold back the tears," said Smith, whose eyes told all that he failed in that attempt. "Brigette's family was there today. Her mother skied in the Olympics and Brigette skied in the Olympics. The grandparents were there and were saying in their cute little French voices, 'Now there are three Olympians in the house.'

"The whole thing is pretty surreal to me."


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Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 3:09 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Coyotes turn to Greiss against Flames

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes are sending five players to the 2014 Sochi Olympics next month, but three of them will not be in the lineup Tuesday when they face the Calgary Flames.

Goalie Mike Smith, who was named to Canada's team Tuesday, will get the night off. Defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson, selected to Sweden's team Tuesday, and Zbynek Michalek (Czech Republic) remain out with injuries for the Coyotes, although both were on the ice Tuesday and are getting closer to playing.

Backup goalie Thomas Greiss, who is 5-2-1 with a 2.13 goals against average in 10 games, will make his seventh start of the season for the Coyotes, who have one win in their past six games (1-2-3).

But Phoenix coach Dave Tippett was clear that Smith, who is 1-4-3 in his past nine starts and saw his goals against average rise to 2.89 following a 5-3 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday, remains the No. 1 goaltender.

"We're not close to thinking about a change," Tippett said. "Not even close. I think he'll work through it. He wants to be a top goaltender and he knows he hasn't played to that level yet. But I think we can play better in front of him too."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.04.2014 / 2:29 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Coyotes captain Doan returns, Ekman-Larsson sits

GLENDALE, Ariz. – For the first time in a month, the Phoenix Coyotes will have their captain in the lineup Saturday. And his team could use the boost as they play host to the Philadelphia Flyers at Jobing.com Arena.

Shane Doan remains Phoenix's leading goal scorer, despite missing the past 12 games with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, an ailment likely brought on by a tick bite. That shows how much the Coyotes, who were 4-3-5 during Doan's absence, missed the presence and firepower of their leader.

The Coyotes didn't have a morning skate so where Doan plays isn't known. But it's a good bet that he can help any line even as he works his way back into playing shape.

"It adds another top player to our group, but we have to be realistic in the expectations [for Saturday]," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "He's worked awful hard to get back but he's missed a month. We'll see how many minutes he'll play. It will be more about watching that asking."

"Before he went out we had some pretty good rhythm in our lines. Hopefully we can get that back."

Doan was happy after getting clearance from the doctors on Friday and doesn't want to waste any more time.

"I think my energy level is high enough to go. I've done enough that I'm not worried about that," Doan said Friday. "I want to play. We've been involved in so many tight games lately and it's hard to watch when you want to help out.

"I know I'm going to do as much as I can and go as hard as I can. I know I can contribute. I'll be a little rusty, but I've skated five or six times now and that's enough."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 3:40 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Horton to make Blue Jackets debut

GLENDALE Ariz. -- Nathan Horton's long-awaited debut with the Columbus Blue Jackets will come Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Horton signed a seven-year, $37.1 million contract with the Blue Jackets in July. He had shoulder surgery shortly after joining Columbus.

"[Wednesday] I couldn't sleep too well," Horton said. "I've been waiting so long to play. It'll be tough the first few games but I want to get out there and contribute.

"I couldn’t even skate on the ice because I was smiling the whole time. It’s been a long road. I can feel it now. I can taste it. I’m pretty comfortable. I’ve done as much as I can without playing a game. It’s going to be a little bit weird. I’m sure I’ll have some nerves but overall I'm just excited."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 3:22 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Coyotes' Doan off antibiotics, regaining strength

GLENDALE Ariz. – Shane Doan will end 2013 where he has spent almost all of December -- watching the Phoenix Coyotes from the sidelines.

But a return in 2014 is looking more and more likely each day.

After taking part in his first full practice Monday, Doan was strong enough to participate in the morning skate Tuesday. That's a sign the Coyotes captain is on the road to recovery from a bout with Rocky Mountain fever that has kept him out of the lineup since Dec. 4, and on his back for several weeks.

Doan won't play against the Edmonton Oilers and the timetable for his return is still undetermined, but he is off antibiotics and building his strength and wind. He returned to the ice last week and made the trip to Anaheim on Saturday, and the progress is noticeable. Following the Saturday skate, Doan slept for four hours in the afternoon to recharge.

Skating on back-to-back days is another hurdle cleared.

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Posted On Friday, 12.27.2013 / 2:53 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Schlemko back in for Coyotes with Klesla ill

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes will have another change on their blue line when they host the San Jose Sharks on Friday.

Rostislav Klesla, who had played well in three games since being recalled from the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League, came to the morning skate not feeling well and was sent home. Defenseman David Schlemko skated with Michael Stone on Friday and will come off injured reserve to play against the Sharks.

Phoenix still is without defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who suffered a lower-body injury in Montreal during the 1-1-2 pre-Christmas road trip. Michalek is not back on the ice and continues to undergo tests that coach Dave Tippett said showed some positive signs.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.14.2013 / 2:08 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Klinkhammer hopes to keep scoring against Carolina

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix Coyotes forward Rob Klinkhammer has a pair of two-goal games in his NHL career, and both are fresh in his mind.

One came Thursday, when Klinkhammer had a career-high three points in Phoenix's 6-3 win against the New York Islanders. The other came Oct. 13 when he scored twice in a win against the Carolina Hurricanes, who visit the Coyotes for a rematch in Arizona on Saturday.

Playing with offensive-minded center Mike Ribeiro, Klinkhammer has set career highs for goals (seven) and points (14), helping to keep the Phoenix offense humming of late while captain Shane Doan misses his fourth straight game with an illness the team is trying to diagnose.

"Anytime your team scores six goals it's great and if you get a couple of points it's even better," said the 27-year-old forward, who played 16 NHL games in stops with the Chicago Blackhawks and Ottawa Senators before finding a home with the Coyotes.
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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres