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Posted On Tuesday, 05.22.2012 / 3:32 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Heat is on -- literally -- as Coyotes return to Phoenix

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Temperatures are expected to hit 108 degrees in Phoenix today, setting what is believed to be the record for the warmest temperature ever for an NHL playoff game. But while some players and fans might disagree, Phoenix's Canadian-born coach Dave Tippett doesn't have an issue as the mercury rises.
 
"I have no problem with the temperatures. It's 108, but it's a dry heat," Tippett said with a smile. "We had a game two weeks ago in Nashville, I think it was in the mid-90s with humidity. So I'll take 108 and dry over humidity -- not that I'm saying Nashville is a bad place."
 
Coyotes center Daymond Langkow said the ice conditions at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale can't be any worse than they were for the last two games in Los Angeles, where the ice was covered at Staples Center for basketball games on Friday and all-day Saturday between Games 3 and 4, making for nasty conditions on Sunday afternoon.
 
Defenseman Derek Morris has played seven of the last nine years in Arizona and has adapted well to the heat -- although he's usually gone for the summer before the 110-degree days set in.

"I'm fine, but guys like (defense partner) Keith Yandle, they don't deal with it too good," Morris said. "He's got all that hot Boston blood running through him. He's always complaining and that beard he's got now doesn't make it any better."
 
If the Coyotes are able to rally in the series and force a Game 7 here on Saturday night, things will be much more tolerable. A "cold front" is expected to hit the Valley of the Sun for the weekend, with temperatures expected to plunge to 90 or under with high winds.
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.22.2012 / 3:07 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Aucoin status won't be determined until pre-game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix will have to wait until the pre-game skate to find out if defenseman Adrian Aucoin is able to go as the Coyotes again face elimination in Game 5 of the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Kings.
 
Aucoin took part in an optional morning skate. The 38-year-old veteran who has appeared in 62 NHL playoff games, second to Ray Whitney on the team, missed the first three games of the conference finals with an undisclosed injury. He returned to the lineup in Game 4 -- the only win by Phoenix in the series -- but left in the third period due to injury and did not skate on Monday.
 
If Aucoin can't play, the Coyotes would likely go with Michael Stone, who played in Games 2 and 3, in Game 5.
 
Phoenix coach Dave Tippett indicated he would likely stick with the fourth line of Kyle Chipchura, Boyd Gordon and Marc-Antoine Pouliot in Game 5. They didn't play much as a trio because the Coyotes took six penalties and had in-game injuries to two forwards, but Pouliot's size and discipline along the walls give him the nod over Gilbert Brule and Paul Bissonnette.
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 1:08 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Coyotes defenseman Aucoin a game-time decision

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin remains a game-time decision for Game 2 on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN) as they look to even the Western Conference Finals with the Los Angeles Kings.
 
Aucoin hasn't played since leaving during the first period of Game 5 of the conference semifinals on May 7. He was able to take part in a full practice on Monday for the first time.
 
The 38-year-old Aucoin has played in 61 NHL playoff games, second-most to Ray Whitney among the Coyotes. If Aucoin is able to play, the Coyotes would likely sit David Schlemko and pair Aucoin with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who stuggled mightily (minus-3) in a 4-2 Kings win in Game 1. That would also allow Rostislav Klesla and Michal Rozsival, a very effective pair for the Coyotes in the postseason, to be reunited.
 
Phoenix trails in a playoff series for the first time in the postseason and is looking to avoid falling behind 0-2 to the Kings on home ice -- the same fate that befell both Vancouver and St. Louis in previous rounds.
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Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 7:03 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Aucoin to miss Game 1 for Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz . -- The Phoenix Coyotes will be without veteran defenseman Adrian Aucoin when they finally take on the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the Western Conference final Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

The 38-year-old Aucoin, whose 61 NHL playoff games rank second to Ray Whitney among the Coyotes, skated on Saturday for the first time since leaving early in Monday's Game 5 win over the Nashville Predators. It was a light, morning-skate type of workout in advance of a 5 p.m. MT faceoff in Arizona. But Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said Aucoin would not be available for Game 1 and that David Schlemko will make his fourth start of the postseason against the Kings. Schlemko also played on Monday in place of the suspended Rostislav Klesla, who will return on Sunday.

Aucoin has two assists in 10 games during this postseason.

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Posted On Friday, 05.11.2012 / 5:59 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Aucoin status for Game 1 up in the air

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin was unable to practice for a second straight day, leaving in doubt his availability for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against Los Angeles on Sunday.

Aucoin, who was injured early in Phoenix's 2-1 series-clinching win against Nashville on Monday, hasn't returned to the ice since.

"He was going to skate a little before practice but it didn't happen," coach Dave Tippett said. "Call him day-to-day."

Aucoin missed a game due to injury earlier in the playoffs but has averaged more than 18 minutes a game during the postseason. David Schlemko, who has filled in for Aucoin, Michal Rozsival and Rostislav Klesla once each during the playoffs, played very well in the clincher against the Predators and would be the likely replacement if Aucoin can't go.

"We have more depth on this team that in the past. That's a real plus for us," Tippett said.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.09.2012 / 5:47 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Kings series blog

Whitney a reluctant birthday boy

GLENDALE, Ariz, -- Ray Whitney turned 40 years old on Tuesday and thought he might have escaped the wrath of his teammates since it was an off-day for the Coyotes.

No chance. His locker was dressed up with presents on Wednesday, including a walker -- adorned with a blue bow -- tubes of Ben Gay and denture cream, laxative, batteries and a magnifying glass with which to read the latest copy of Oprah Winfrey's "O" Magazine.

Whitney, who will dodge any camera possible even on most normal days, had no interest in coming out to view the display while media was in the room. But his teammates didn't mind commenting -- especially suspected ringleader Shane Doan.

"I'm way young younger than a few people on this team -- and Ray Whitney is way older than everyone else," the 35-year-old Doan was only too happy to point out, "We fixed him up with a 40-year-old survival kit just to make sure he has everything working."

Whitney had everything working during the regular season, leading the Coyotes in assists (53) and points (77) while pumping in 24 goals. He's added six points in 13 playoff games -- showing he's not quite ready for a walker.

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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 6:36 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Projected lines for Coyotes for Game 5

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With David Schlemko in for Rostislav Klesla and Lauri Korpikoski a game-time decision, here is tonight's projected lineup for the Phoenix Coyotes:

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Marc Antoine Pouliot
Kyle Chipchura - Daymond Langkow - Gilbert Brule

Michal Rozsival - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
David Schlemko - Adrian Aucoin

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera
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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 5:20 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Pouliot filling in admirably in Korpikoski's absence

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Coyotes winger Lauri Korpikoski ranked fourth on the Phoenix Coyotes with 17 goals and 37 points this season and wears a variety of hats for the team as a special teams performer and responsible checker.
 
But injuries have limited Korpikoski to just five games in the postseason and he has played in just three of the last eight games. Kopikoski is getting closer but is still a game-time decision for Monday night's Game 5 when the Coyotes will try to close out the Nashville Predators and advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
 
The Coyotes have a quandary. Marc-Antoine Pouliot has played very steady hockey (one assist, plus-one) in averaging about 10 minutes of ice in the last three games. And while Phoenix could use the added surge of offense, Korpikoski would have about a week to rest and get ready for the Western Conference Finals if Phoenix can advance on Monday.
 
"We'll see where he is today," said Tippett, sounding like he was ready to play without Korpikoski. "When we feel like he can contribute to the maximum, that's when he'll play."
 
Pouliot has been a pleasant surprise for the organization this year and his versatility -- playing both the wing and center spots -- and toughness fit in well in this type of series.
 
"He's filled in very well for Korpikoski," Tippett said. "He's a solid player, two-way player, strong on the boards and solid in all parts of the game. He hasn't gotten on the scoreboard, but if you look at the guts of the game he's a heavy player similar to a [Taylor] Pyatt. He's been a good player for us."
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Posted On Sunday, 05.06.2012 / 10:51 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Success in playoffs means thicker beards for Coyotes

The Phoenix Coyotes have gone farther in the playoffs than ever before, and they have the playoff beards to prove it.
 
Keith Yandle
Defense - PHX
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 7
SOG: 12 | +/-: 7
Defenseman Keith Yandle spent most of an interview scratching his facial hair and when asked about how he was enjoying the hockey rite of spring, he wasn't shy.
 
"It's awful. I spend all day picking things out of it. Food, loose objects, everything," Yandle said. "I love it because it's a sign we're still around fighting for the Stanley Cup. But it's not one of my favorite things."
 
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Posted On Sunday, 05.06.2012 / 9:41 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Predators series blog

Coyotes forced to play Game 5 without Klesla

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Already without winger Raffi Torres for the rest of the playoffs, the Phoenix Coyotes will try to eliminate the Nashville Predators on Monday night with another player sitting out a suspension.

Rostislav Klesla
Defense - PHX
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 6
SOG: 19 | +/-: 1
Defenseman Rostislav Klesla will miss Game 5 after being suspended for one game for his boarding infraction against Nashville's Matt Halischuk in Game 4 on Friday night. Klesla was penalized on the play, but the League's Department of Safety ruled that Halischuk was defenseless as he chased a puck to the sideboards in part because Klesla grabbed his jersey before administering his check.

Klesla will likely be replaced by David Schlemko -- the only other defenseman to see time in the playoffs so far -- when they take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 at Jobing.com Arena. Klesla's usual partner is Adrian Aucoin, but Schlemko skated with several partners during Sunday’s practice and the pairings could change.
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