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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."

Posted On Saturday, 10.11.2014 / 4:55 PM

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

At the Rink: Kings at Coyotes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Friday was a busy day off the ice for the Arizona Coyotes, with New Jersey hedge fund owner Andrew Barroway agreeing to purchase 51 percent of the team to become the primary owner pending approval by the NHL's Board of Governors. But there was work to do on the ice as well after the Coyotes were embarrassed 6-2 Thursday by the Winnipeg Jets, allowing four goals in the first 14 minutes of a nightmarish first period.

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett won't make many cosmetic changes for their game Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings. Rob Klinkhammer will move to a line with Czechs Martin Hanzal and Martin Erat, while David Moss moves down to play with Lauri Korpikoski and Sam Gagner. But the work ethic and goaltending effort of Mike Smith, who struggled mightily against the Jets, needs some serious upgrades with the defending Stanley Cup champions in town.

"Everyone is obviously extremely disappointed with this start and it just goes back to us having to be ready for the next game," Arizona captain Shane Doan said. "It really doesn't matter if you lose 3-2 or 6-2 or whatever it is, it's the next game you have to win and that's where we're at. You just know you have the chance to answer those questions, and you got 81 more games to do it."

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