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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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 4:12 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - Road to Sochi blog

Selection by Canada overwhelming for Coyotes' Smith

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When Mike Smith woke up Tuesday morning, there were already two Canadian Olympians in his house.

It took less than 10 minutes for that number to increase.

With his wife and 2010 Canadian Olympic skier Brigitte (Acton) Smith and mother-in-law, 1972 Olympian Diane Pratte looking on, Smith took a phone call from Team Canada Associate Director of Player Personnel Doug Armstrong. When the tears on his face converged with the ear-to-ear smile, everyone knew he had been selected to join Carey Price and Roberto Luongo as the goaltenders for Canada for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"I was trying to hold back the tears," said Smith, whose eyes told all that he failed in that attempt. "Brigette's family was there today. Her mother skied in the Olympics and Brigette skied in the Olympics. The grandparents were there and were saying in their cute little French voices, 'Now there are three Olympians in the house.'

"The whole thing is pretty surreal to me."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 3:09 PM

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

Coyotes turn to Greiss against Flames

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes are sending five players to the 2014 Sochi Olympics next month, but three of them will not be in the lineup Tuesday when they face the Calgary Flames.

Goalie Mike Smith, who was named to Canada's team Tuesday, will get the night off. Defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson, selected to Sweden's team Tuesday, and Zbynek Michalek (Czech Republic) remain out with injuries for the Coyotes, although both were on the ice Tuesday and are getting closer to playing.

Backup goalie Thomas Greiss, who is 5-2-1 with a 2.13 goals against average in 10 games, will make his seventh start of the season for the Coyotes, who have one win in their past six games (1-2-3).

But Phoenix coach Dave Tippett was clear that Smith, who is 1-4-3 in his past nine starts and saw his goals against average rise to 2.89 following a 5-3 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday, remains the No. 1 goaltender.

"We're not close to thinking about a change," Tippett said. "Not even close. I think he'll work through it. He wants to be a top goaltender and he knows he hasn't played to that level yet. But I think we can play better in front of him too."

Posted On Saturday, 01.04.2014 / 2:29 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 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 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."

Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 3:40 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 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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— Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after breaking the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Kings
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