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Posted On Tuesday, 02.04.2014 / 4:03 PM

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

Ribeiro reunion comes as Stars, Coyotes need points

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's been nearly two years since the Dallas Stars traded Mike Ribeiro to the Washington Capitals, signaling a youth movement in Texas and giving Alex Ovechkin a set-up man in D.C.

Riberio and the Stars haven't seen each other since. Dallas and Washington didn't play in the shortened 2012-13 season. Riberio signed with the Phoenix Coyotes as a free agent in the summer of 2013, but the Stars moved out of the Pacific Division and the number of games between the teams was reduced to three.

The first encounter comes Tuesday at Arena, and there is a lot more than a reunion to talk about.

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Posted On Saturday, 02.01.2014 / 1:35 PM

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

Struggling Coyotes look to rebound against Penguins

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Two days after a frustrating loss at the hands of the team with the NHL's worst record, the Phoenix Coyotes have to try to regroup against the best the East has to offer.

Still on the outside looking in at a Western Conference playoff spot, the struggling Coyotes meet the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday. Phoenix is now 10-7-3 against the East after a 3-2 regulation loss against the Buffalo Sabres Thursday.

With a golden opportunity to gain ground in the Western Conference playoff race, the Coyotes lost to the Sabres for the second time in five weeks and were a frustrated group afterward. Phoenix captain Shane Doan called out himself and his teammates, saying it was more than a matter of playing to the level of competition.

"I don't even know what our level is because we're barely above average right now, if average," Doan said after the Coyotes lost Thursday. "It's not acceptable. Not even close."

Both teams will have their starters in goal tonight.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.30.2014 / 2:31 PM

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

Vermette earning rave reviews as Coyotes' MVP

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Phoenix Coyotes center Antoine Vermette celebrated the return to his old stomping grounds with a Dec. 21 hat trick against the Ottawa Senators, he hoped it would be the catalyst to a hot streak.

The hot streak did come, but there was a delayed reaction.

After his three goals in Ottawa, Vermette went 11 games without a goal and had one assist during that span. With captain Shane Doan still not 100 percent and the Coyotes scrounging for goals, his cold snap was reflective of their offensive struggles.

But since scoring the only goal in a clutch 1-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 16, Vermette has had the hot stick the Coyotes need as they try to fight back into Western Conference playoff position. He added a second hat trick this season in an overtime loss to the Canucks on Jan. 26 and scored his seventh goal in the past seven games in a big 3-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 3:26 PM

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

Coyotes' Greiss to give Smith a break in net

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With starter Mike Smith still searching to find his form, the Phoenix Coyotes will go with backup Thomas Greiss in goal when they open a crucial five-game homestand against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

Smith played in all three games of a 1-1-1 Western Canada road trip and had his struggles in a wild 5-4 overtime loss Sunday against the Vancouver Canucks.

The Coyotes have allowed 156 non-shootout goals in 52 games this season (3.00 per game). Only the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers have allowed more in the Western Conference.

Greiss hasn't played since Jan. 11 when he allowed four goals on 23 shots and was lifted in the second period of a 5-3 home loss against the Anaheim Ducks. In 12 games he is 6-3-1 with a 2.21 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and one shutout, which he recorded Jan. 7 against the Calgary Flames.

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Posted On Monday, 01.20.2014 / 7:58 PM

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

Coyotes' Hanzal out vs. Maple Leafs with injury

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix Coyotes center Martin Hanzal, who is tied for the team lead with 14 goals, will not play against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday due to a lower-body injury.

Hanzal, who had the game-winning goal and an assist in the Coyotes' 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, has missed three straight morning skates, but he was able to play Thursday in a 1-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks and Saturday against the Devils.

Tim Kennedy will center the second line for Phoenix, between Radim Vrbata and Lauri Korpikoski. Rob Klinkhammer returns to the Phoenix lineup after sitting the past two games as a healthy scratch.

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Posted On Monday, 01.20.2014 / 2:16 PM

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

Coyotes' Szwarz rebounds after stint in minors

GLENDALE, Ariz. – A return to the minor leagues after a player's first shot at the NHL can be a deflating experience that results in a lingering negative effect.

But Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said forward Jordan Szwarz took his recent six-game trip to the Portland Pirates with the right mindset. He worked on the areas of his game that required improvement and prepared for a return trip to the NHL. He's getting rewarded for it since coming back to the Coyotes.

Szwarz was part of a fourth line that produced two goals in a 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. Szwarz scored his third League goal and required 11 stitches in the second period after Reid Boucher's skate blade cut his chin.

"When guys get their first taste and then they go back to the minors, it's tough. But when they come back they're a different player," Tippett said. "It's all part of the process. You just have to take it the right way."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.18.2014 / 2:54 PM

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

Coyotes' Yandle looking to build on strong effort

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes have a power-play goal in each of the past six games and havingKeith Yandle on the point is a key component.

Not just for his shot or his passes, but for his goaltending as well.

Time and again this season Yandle had made acrobatic "saves" to thwart an enemy clearing attempt, sometimes going into a vertical dive like a baseball shortstop knocking down a hard hit ground ball.

Yandle had another key keep-in Thursday leading to an Antoine Vermette power-play goal in the first period. It turned out to be the difference in a 1-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 3:50 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic