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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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Posted On Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 3:19 PM

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

Coyotes' Doan remains out 'for the foreseeable future'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Exactly what has been ailing Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan for the last week hasn't been revealed. But coach Dave Tippett said Thursday the illness isn't simply a short-term concern and could keep Phoenix's leading goal-scorer out of the lineup for an extended period.

Doan was not on the ice Thursday morning and will miss his third straight game when the Coyotes host the New York Islanders. Doan has 12 goals and 23 points in 27 games and leaves a big hole in the Coyotes lineup, in production and leadership.

"He's still under the weather and he's still not going to be available for the foreseeable future," Tippett said. "He's still getting some tests done, so hopefully it's not long, long-term."

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Posted On Saturday, 11.30.2013 / 3:27 PM

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

Coyotes hope to make up ground on Blackhawks

GLENDALE, Ariz. – It doesn't take much of a losing streak to lose ground in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. The Phoenix Coyotes found that out the hard way last week, when a 0-2-1 mini-slump left them looking up at West teams that just keep winning.

The Coyotes got back on track with a tight 2-1 road win against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday and have a chance to make up ground Saturday against the NHL-leading Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago moved eight points ahead of Phoenix with its fifth straight win, a 2-1 shootout victory against the Dallas Stars Friday.

Chicago is now 5-1 on a road trip that ends in Arizona, collecting points in bunches while the Coyotes scuffled before finding their game in front of backup goalie Thomas Greiss against the Wild.

"Before the game talked about not letting things spiral out of control, that losing three was bad enough," Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle said. "The great teams find ways to end those runs quickly, and now we have to take the momentum from that win and run with it."

The Coyotes are off to a 15-6-4 start after 25 games and things are looking up off the ice as well. The game on Saturday is a sellout and all 87 luxury suites have been sold at Jobing.com Arena for the first time since the Coyotes moved to Glendale in 2003. Team officials are projecting the highest regular season gate revenue since the team moved to Arizona in 1996

The Coyotes still have defenseman Rostislav Klesla on the roster, but after clearing waivers this week he is likely headed for the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League. Klesla was allowed to stay in Arizona to tend to personal matters but it was clear coach Dave Tippett wants him to play heavy minutes in the minors and work on improving his game.

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Posted On Saturday, 11.23.2013 / 2:13 PM

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

Stone providing unlikely offense for Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz.Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Michael Stone had five shots on goal against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. That was highly unusual for the second-year player.

Stone also scored in the 4-3 overtime loss to the Avalanche. Lately, that's not news.

With four goals in his past three games, Stone now has seven goals for the season, tying him with Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators for the most among NHL defensemen. Stone has accomplished the feat while putting 29 shots on goal, scoring on 24.1 percent of his shots on goal, compared to 10.3 percent for Karlsson.

Stone will try to keep it going Saturday when the Coyotes face the Anaheim Ducks at Jobing.com Arena. Phoenix trails Anaheim by three points in the Western Conference, which has eight teams with at least 32 points.

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Posted On Thursday, 11.21.2013 / 2:12 PM

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

Rested Coyotes back to chasing points in wild West

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes enjoyed a much-needed, four-day break to heal bumps and bruises and recharge batteries tested by a difficult early schedule.

But the rest of the potent Western Conference, boasting teams that have compiled the top eight point totals in the NHL, has been working while Phoenix sat on the sidelines. To keep pace, the Coyotes need to hit the ground running when they face off against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

The Coyotes (31 points) and Avalanche (30) are part of the eight-team logjam that is separated by three points in the standings. Colorado lost three straight before rebounding with a 5-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.

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Posted On Saturday, 11.16.2013 / 3:04 PM

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

Morris, Michalek remain out for Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Much of the Phoenix Coyotes' early-season success can be traced to a strong effort from the defense corps. But the depth of the blueline is being tested as two main cogs will be on the sidelines when Phoenix plays host to the Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday.

Derek Morris (lower body) is expected to miss his fifth straight game and Zbynek Michalek was injured in the 5-4 shootout loss against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday and won't play Saturday. The Coyotes recalled rookie Connor Murphy from Portland of the American Hockey League Friday and he is expected to make his NHL debut against the Lightning.

Even with the injuries, the Phoenix defense continues to produce. Michael Stone had the first two-goal game of his career against the Blackhawks as the Coyotes collected three of four points in tough road stops against the St. Louis Blues and Chicago.

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