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Posted On Friday, 02.07.2014 / 10:21 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - Road to Sochi blog

'Miracle on Ice' team members salute 2014 Olympians

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The 15 members of the Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes who will take part in the 2014 Sochi Olympics were given a rousing sendoff at Arena on Friday, with 10 members of the 1980 United States "Miracle on Ice" team leading the way.

Beginning with Kurt Russell's recreation of coach Herb Brooks' famous USA-Soviet Union pregame speech from the movie "Miracle" and continuing with Aerosmith's iconic "Dream On," 10 members of the gold medal winning team were introduced to a sellout crowd that recreated the "U-S-A!, U-S-A!" chant that echoed through the mountains of Lake Placid 34 years ago.

The 10 team members, Beginning with sniper Neal Broten and ending with captain Mike Eruzione, donned their red, white and blue jerseys again and lined up at center ice before the five Phoenix and 10 Chicago Olympians were introduced to the crowd. Broten and Eruzione were joined by Steve Janaszak, Rob McClanahan, Ken Morrow, Buzz Schneider, Dave Silk, Bob Suter, Phil Verchota and Mark Wells.

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Posted On Friday, 02.07.2014 / 8:56 PM

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

Hanzal to sit out for Coyotes due to illness

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes will be without center Martin Hanzal for their game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night due to illness.

Hanzal, who has 14 goals and 36 points this season and is a key defensive player and penalty killer, did not take part in the pregame skate. This is the sixth game Hanzal has missed this season due to suspension, injury or illness.

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Posted On Friday, 02.07.2014 / 3:02 PM

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

Blackhawks minus Kane, Oduya against Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Two of the 10 Chicago Blackhawks headed to the 2014 Sochi Olympics won't be in the lineup when the team ends a six-game road trip and the pre-Olympic portion of its schedule Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes.

U.S. Olympian Patrick Kane, the team's leading scorer with 63 points, will miss his second straight game as he attends the funeral of his grandfather in Buffalo. Defenseman Johnny Oduya, who will play for Sweden in Sochi, will miss his second game with a lower-body injury.

Without those two players the Blackhawks beat the Anaheim Ducks 2-0 on Wednesday to improve to 3-0-2 on the trip. Corey Crawford, coming off his first shutout of the season, will be in goal as the Blackhawks attempt to jump ahead of the slumping Ducks and back atop the Western Conference standings.

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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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