GLENDALE Ariz. -- For a number of reasons, Martin Hanzal's two-game suspension could not have come at a worse time for the Phoenix Coyotes as they host the Los Angeles Kings at Jobing.com Arena on Tuesday.
Hanzal, a repeat offender under the NHL's disciplinary system, will miss the game against the Kings and Thursday against the Nashville Predators after charging Edmonton Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry in a 5-4 comeback victory on Saturday.
The Coyotes are banged up and Hanzal is one of four regulars who will miss the game. Forwards Lauri Korpikoski and Jeff Halpern are injured, as well as defenseman Rostislav Klesla. The two-game break might actually be beneficial to Hanzal, who has been banged up for more than a week himself, but the Coyotes will certainly miss him.
Hanzal is off to the best offensive start of his career with five goals and 11 points, one shy of team leader and linemate Radim Vrbata, in the first 12 games. He has been especially active around the net, good in the faceoff circle (52 percent) and an effective penalty killer, a big reason why the Coyotes are off to a 7-3-2 start despite allowing 39 goals in their first 12 games.
Two of Hanzal's goals came last Thursday in Los Angeles, when the Coyotes rallied from a 4-0 second-period deficit to tie the game before falling 7-4 to the Kings. And Hanzal's absence means he won't be on the ice to battle longtime foe Anze Kopitar, forcing the Coyotes to chance their normal defensive strategy against the Kings.
"He's our lead horse out there and he really plays in all situations," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "He plays a big, hard game. This year, he's gone to the net and screened in front of the net as well as I've ever seen him do. He's had a great start to the year."
Two call-ups from the Portland Pirates will fill out the Coyotes' forward lines. Former Hobey Baker Award winner Andy Miele, scoreless in eight previous games with Phoenix, will center the third line while 22-year-old Jordan Szwarz will make his NHL debut on the fourth line.
Backup goalie Ben Scrivens is expected to get his second start of the year in place of Jonathan Quick for the Kings. Otherwise, Los Angeles will play with the same group that scored four times in the first 18 minutes in its Oct. 24 win over Phoenix.
Suspended: Martin Hanzal
Scratched: David Rundblad