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Posted On Tuesday, 03.03.2015 / 3:19 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Ducks at Coyotes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There are numbers on the back of the Arizona Coyotes helmets. But at the morning skate Tuesday, name tags for their jerseys might have helped as well.

Four new Coyotes were on the ice after a flurry of NHL Trade Deadline trades by general manager Don Maloney. Gone were three key veteran leaders -- Zbynek Michalek, Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle -- replaced by young defensemen obtained in those trades (John Moore and Klas Dahlbeck) as well as forwards Craig Cunningham and Tye McGinn, who were claimed off the waiver wire from the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks, respectively.

All four will play against the Anaheim Ducks, leading to a longer morning skate to help them adapt. The Coyotes have 19 healthy skaters and 12 forwards, with Lucas Lessio and Henrik Samuelsson returning to the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League.

Posted On Saturday, 02.21.2015 / 7:39 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Lightning at Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Center Antonie Vermette could play his final home game with the Arizona Coyotes when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

The veteran center is expected to be moved before the March 2 NHL Trade Deadline, and Arizona heads out on a four-game road trip next week and won’t return home until after the deadline.

Several other Coyotes could be traded too. Forward Martin Erat and defenseman Zbynek Michalek are among those being mentioned as trade targets. But the loss of Vermette, a fan favorite and key member of Arizona’s first and only division title and first-ever run to the Western Conference Final, would be hardest for fans to swallow.

General manager Don Maloney has reiterated Arizona will be looking to acquire assets at the deadline, and the 32-year-old Vermette, whose 35 points are second on the Coyotes, plays a solid two-way game, is excellent in the face-off circle, and could be very attractive to a team looking to beef up for the stretch run and fast-approaching playoffs.

Posted On Saturday, 02.14.2015 / 12:54 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Rangers at Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- What’s the best thing for the New York Rangers to do while waiting for star goalie Henrik Lundqvist to return from injury?

Keep winning. And backup Cam Talbot is doing his part to make sure they do.

The Rangers tied a season high in goals in a 6-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche Thursday. But a big assist went to Talbot, who will make his sixth straight start in place of Lundqvist Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes, who stopped 12 shots in the first eight minutes of the third period when the game was 3-3 and the Avalanche had all the momentum.

Talbot weathered the storm and Carl Hagelin scored on New York’s first shot of the period to put the Rangers up for good.

Posted On Friday, 02.13.2015 / 2:57 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sharks at Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes were expected to have a new look to end a disappointing season. But instead of those changes coming at the NHL Trade Deadline, they have hit early due to long-term injuries.

Already without the offensive push of forward Mikkel Boedker (spleen surgery) for what is expected to be the rest of the season, the Coyotes announced center Martin Hanzal will have season-ending back surgery next week in Los Angeles.

Hanzal had back surgery in 2008 and back issues have been a constant since then. He hasn't played more than 65 games in a full season since 2009-10 and back trouble is usually a culprit.

"He's struggled with this all season and it was time to get it fixed up," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said Friday. "I can speak from experience [with back injuries]. When you get fixed up you feel a lot better. He's a real valuable part of our team and he's going to be missed."

Posted On Saturday, 02.07.2015 / 12:23 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Red Wings at Coyotes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Coaches love to say that injuries and setbacks for one player is an opportunity for another. And as the struggling Arizona Coyotes continue to see their roster depleted by injuries and other transactions, opportunities abound.

Enter defenseman Andrew Campbell, who spent six seasons in the Los Angeles Kings organization before moving to the Coyotes last summer. He celebrated his 27th birthday this week and did it wearing an NHL uniform, the culmination of a long climb through the minors. He will be paired with Connor Murphy again Saturday when the Coyotes play the Detroit Red Wings.

After a strong season with the Portland Pirates in the American Hockey League, Campbell earned a call-up to Arizona and is providing some strong penalty killing and much-needed grit around the Coyotes net, two areas they've lacked all season. Campbell earned his first NHL assist Tuesday in a 4-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he has helped bolster a penalty-kill unit that has struggled all season.

"Campbell's a good story," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. "There are a lot of players around the League like that, guys who haven't gotten the opportunity. We signed him this summer as a depth defenseman, a guy we knew was a good minor-league player but with the change in organizations perhaps have some upside.

"He was [Portland's] top defenseman, and in our situation what we really needed is a left-handed, defending defenseman who plays hard around the front of the net. He's put the work in and when he's had the opportunity, he's seized it."

Posted On Thursday, 02.05.2015 / 3:25 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Hurricanes at Coyotes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Without their high scoring forward and hulking center, and already well off the Stanley Cup Playoff pace in the Western Conference, a funny thing happened to the Arizona Coyotes on the back end of their longest road trip of the season.

They started having some fun. And they started winning.

The Coyotes closed a 13-day, eight-game road trip with a 3-1-1 record in the final five games. They did it with Mikkel Boedker and Martin Hanzal out with long-term injuries, and a handful of minor-league players who made strong contributions in wins against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Posted On Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 2:32 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flames at Coyotes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes get one forward back but will be without their captain Thursday against the Calgary Flames.

Forward Shane Doan won't play after he was hit by a slap shot from Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. Doan gutted through two periods, scoring the game-tying goal in the second, before finally leaving in the third of a 3-2 loss.

Center Martin Hanzal returns after missing the past four games with an upper-body injury sustained in a 6-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 3. Hanzal tied a career high with four points against Columbus.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.13.2015 / 2:52 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sharks at Coyotes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes have allowed 134 goals in the first 41 games of the season, a statistic that has been hard for coach Dave Tippett to swallow. And with his team a lap behind the contenders for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he's ready to see what the future offers.

Defenseman Philip Samuelsson, acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Rob Klinkhammer trade last month, was recalled from the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League on Tuesday and could play Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks.

Samuelsson is the son of two-time Stanley Cup winning defenseman Ulf Samuelsson and the brother of Henrik Samuelsson, chosen by the Coyotes with the 27th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, who also is playing in Portland.

"The first half of the season didn't go anywhere near the way anyone expected it would," Tippett said. "The goal is to get better. You can either keep going with what you have or you can try some things different. It's time to try some things different."

Posted On Saturday, 01.10.2015 / 2:11 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Senators at Coyotes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes are in the midst of a strange stretch. They have won five of the past seven games, but lost by a combined 12-0 score in the two losses, tempering the enthusiasm of the victories as they face the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

A 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets Thursday, however, came with two important positives. The struggling Arizona penalty kill unit, without center Martin Hanzal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek stopped all seven Winnipeg penalties, and goalie Mike Smith won for the second time in three starts, regaining confidence halfway through what has been a miserable season.

Smith is now 7-16-2 for the season, but said he feels he has found something in the past three games that could put him back on track.

"This was one of my best games. There haven't been many (to choose from) but this was good," Smith said. "I've felt a lot more comfortable in practice and we've talked about implementing that in games, and the last three you can feel that. I feel like I've really turned the corner in the last couple of weeks and got a little bit of swagger back in my game."

Posted On Thursday, 01.08.2015 / 3:22 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Jets at Coyotes

SCOTTSDALE Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes will be without two of their more physical players Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets.

Center Martin Hanzal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek are out with upper-body injures.

Hanzal will miss his second game with an injury sustained late in a 6-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. Hanzal tied a personal best with four points in the game, but was unable to speak with reporters after the game and unable to play Tuesday after practicing Monday. He was developing good chemistry with wing Sam Gagner of late and the lack of offensive punch was noticeable in a 6-0 loss to the Blues on Tuesday.

"Marty is out tonight. Don't rule him out for Saturday (against the Ottawa Senators) but he's not quite there," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "Both he and Michalek are key players for us, but it opens an opportunity for someone else to see what they can do."

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