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Posted On Saturday, 11.29.2014 / 2:29 PM

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

At the Rink: Flames at Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. – If the Arizona Coyotes are going to join the Western Conference playoff chase, they have to stop leaving points behind on home ice.

The Coyotes will look to snap a four-game losing streak (0-2-2) at Gila River Arena against the Calgary Flames on Saturday. But it's the way they have been losing these tight, one-goal games that have hurt:

* Nov. 8 against the New York Islanders: Frans Nielsen of New York broke up a scoreless game with 2:31 left to play for a 1-0 win.

* Nov. 11 against the Dallas Stars: With a chance to win the game with a late power play, the Coyotes allowed Ryan Garbutt to go end-to-end on a game-winning shorthanded goal with 1:16 left for a 4-3 win.

* Nov. 18 against the Washington Capitals: The Coyotes held Washington to one goal in regulation, but Eric Fehr's overtime winner stole the extra point with a 2-1 victory.

* Nov. 25 against the Colorado Avalanche: The Coyotes blew a 3-0 first period lead, and the game-tying and game-winning goal for Colorado each came off Arizona deflections for a 4-3 win in overtime.

Posted On Tuesday, 11.25.2014 / 3:45 PM

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

At the Rink: Avalanche at Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Two teams fighting to get back the Western Conference pack have missed a key cog in their lineup of late.

The Arizona Coyotes will get theirs back Tuesday. The Colorado Avalanche will have to wait.

Martin Hanzal will be in the lineup for the Coyotes when they play the Avalanche at Gila River Arena.

Hanzal, who missed seven of the first 22 games with several injuries, will play between Rob Klinkhammer and Martin Erat reuniting a line that has had success.

The Avalanche hoped to have their leading goal scorer, Alex Tanguay in the lineup. But Tanguay, who was hit in the face by a slap shot from Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals five days ago, will miss his second straight game Tuesday. He was able to practice Monday and took part in the morning skate with a full face shield but won’t suit up.

Posted On Tuesday, 11.18.2014 / 2:46 PM

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

At the Rink: Capitals at Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes won a game against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, but the cost of that victory was two players who will be out of the lineup Tuesday against the Washington Capitals.

Defenseman Brandon Gormley scored his first NHL goal and played a key role in the 2-1 win, but he suffered a lower-body injury late in the third period. Wing Rob Klinkhammer left the game with an upper-body injury in the first period and didn't return.

Gormley stayed on the bench after he was hit from behind along the boards by Edmonton's Benoit Pouliot, but had to be helped off the ice by his teammates after the victory celebration.

Gormley was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Arizona coach Dave Tippett said Gormley will miss "about a week," but was cautiously optimistic the injury won't be serious. Further tests later Tuesday will tell more.

Posted On Tuesday, 11.11.2014 / 3:10 PM

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

At the Rink: Stars at Coyotes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Coming in to face the Arizona Coyotes with a seven-game winless streak on their backs, the Dallas Stars are stirring up the roster in search of a spark.

The Stars shipped veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday in exchange for forward Travis Moen, and defenseman John Klingberg will make his NHL debut at Gila River Arena as Dallas looks to end an 0-4-3 slide that ruined an optimistic 4-2-1 start to the season.

Moen will join the Stars on Wednesday.

Klingberg will finally give Dallas a right-handed shot on the back line. He will be paired Alex Goligoski.

The Coyotes know they will be facing a desperate group of Stars, but Arizona coach Dave Tippett is more concerned with the momentum of his team.

Posted On Saturday, 11.08.2014 / 2:30 PM

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

At the Rink: Islanders at Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The New York Islanders and Arizona Coyotes each feel really good about themselves, and each are coming off successful trips to Southern California. But only one will have the benefit of rest on their side when they collide in the desert Saturday.

The Islanders were in Arizona watching Friday when the Coyotes rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 shootout win against the Anaheim Ducks behind goalie Mike Smith's 37 saves, many of highlight quality, and two more in the shootout to shut down the Ducks over the final 56 minutes. 

Smith will be back in the net against New York. He is 4-1-0 record with a 2.36 goals-against average, one shutout and a .924 save percentage in five career games against the Islanders. But it's how he's playing right now, with a 2.21 GAA in his past four starts, with back-to-back wins for the first time this season, that has coach Dave Tippett's interest.

"When we needed big saves he gave us big saves and that's a great sign," Tippett said after the game Friday. "That's really good for the whole psyche of the team when you see him play like that."

Posted On Tuesday, 11.04.2014 / 3:37 PM

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

At the Rink: Maple Leafs at Coyotes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Arizona Coyotes have been searching for some offensive spark all season. It turns out the pilot light might have been in the minor leagues all along.

Coach Dave Tippett’s decision to have rookie Tobias Rieder start alongside Antoine Vermette and Shane Doan on the first line produced four goals in a 6-5 come-from-behind win against the Washington Capitals Sunday, and that trio will remain intact when the Coyotes face the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday at Gila River Arena.

Rieder, 21, made his first NHL goal a game-winner against Washington, scoring with 4:27 left in regulation. Doan and Vermette combined for three goals and six points in by far their most productive game of the season. That allowed the Coyotes to spread their offensive wealth a little bit and the slumping Mikkel Boedker responded with two assists while playing the right side for the first time this season with Lauri Korpikoski and Sam Gagne, who scored his first goal as a Coyote against the Capitals.

“He was a top player (with the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League) in all situations and was playing against the best players. You could see he was playing well,” Tippett said. “He’s a smart player and that shows. We put him right on the top line and he looked like a top player. He was sent down and he took it as another step that he needed to take to learn.”

Posted On Saturday, 10.25.2014 / 3:56 PM

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

At the Rink: Panthers at Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Zero goals. Zero points. Zero impact.

Summing up Sam Gagner's first six games with the Arizona Coyotes is about as simple as that. 

Acquired in the offseason to add some skill and scoring to a forward unit in dire need in those departments, Gagner has yet to dent the score sheet. He has one fewer point than goalie Mike Smith, and his minus-4 rating is better than Lauri Korpikoski and David Moss among Arizona forwards.

Coach Dave Tippett will try something different Saturday against the Florida Panthers, moving Gagner to his more natural wing position alongside American Hockey League call-up Justin Hodgman and Martin Erat as the Coyotes look to snap an 0-2-1 skid that included a winless road trip.

Posted On Saturday, 10.18.2014 / 1:58 PM

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

At the Rink: Blues at Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mikkel Boedker will be the first to tell you he's not going to score five goals every three games this season. But not many people expect the career-best 19 goals the Arizona Coyotes left wing put up last season to stand either.

Boedker's five goals through three games, including his first career hat trick in a 7-4 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, are a result of him becoming what Arizona needs for a successful season: their best player and top scorer.

Boedker, 24, will attempt to become the first player in club history to score a goal in each of the first four games of a season Saturday when the Coyotes host the St. Louis Blues.

"We saw it coming last year, and in training camp everyone talked about what a big year he was going to have," Arizona captain and linemate Shane Doan said. "He has the capabilities to be special because he skates so well, he's so strong on the puck and he's got an unbelievable shot. It's all there and now it's coming out."

Posted On Wednesday, 10.15.2014 / 4:18 PM

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

At the Rink: Oilers at Coyotes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Arizona Coyotes coach Dave Tippett is now confident No. 1 goalie Mike Smith is ready to start the season. It just took an extra week to get there.

Smith said he felt uncomfortable in the net after allowing six goals, four of them in the first 15 minutes, in a 6-2 season-opening loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 9. Smith watched backup Devan Dubnyk helped the Coyotes to a 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and spent several days with goalie coach Sean Burke working out the kinks.

Now Smith is ready for a redo and will start Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers, who are looking for a reboot themselves after an 0-2-1 start punctuated by a 6-1 loss to the Kings on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Tippett will also give veteran forward Kyle Chipchura and defenseman into the lineup for the first time this season, with forward B.J. Crombeen and defenseman Chris Summers sitting as healthy scratches.

Smith is 8-1-1 lifetime against the Oilers.

"He's had a good couple of practice here, so Smitty will go," Tippett said. "He's looked sharp the last few days. He and Burkie have been working right from (the Winnipeg loss) … work to make him feel good."

Posted On Saturday, 10.11.2014 / 9:05 PM

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

Dubnyk starts in goal for Coyotes vs. Kings

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Goalie Devan Dubnyk will start for the Arizona Coyotes against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett opted to start Dubnyk in favor of Mike Smith, who allowed six goals on 27 shots in Arizona's 6-2 season-opening loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, despite Smith's 11-4-1 career regular-season record against the Kings.

“I wanted to give Dubnyk one of these first four games at home, and this was a good time to do it,” Tippett said. “(Smith) wanted to get some work with (goalie coach Sean Burke) today, so that worked out well."

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