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At the Rink blog

Coyotes captain Doan returns, Ekman-Larsson sits

Saturday, 01.04.2014 / 2:29 PM

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

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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 Jobing.com 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."

Doan's presence comes at a great time, because the Coyotes won't have their top defense pair against the Flyers.

Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson will miss his first game in three years after being run into the glass but Derek MacKenzie in a 2-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. MacKenzie was suspended for three games by the NHL on Friday.

Tippett said Ekman-Larsson felt better on Friday and the upper-body injury isn't long-term. But Ekman-Larsson is expected to sit tonight along with partner Zbynek Michalek, who has missed two weeks with a hip injury. Michalek skated for 20 minutes on Friday, the most since the injury, and is getting closer to returning.

The Flyers will be without forward Michael Raffl, who sustained an upper body injury in Philadelphia's 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Thursday. Forward Matt Read will also sit for a second straight game with an upper-body injury.

Raffl has teamed with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek for an effective offensive trio this month. In 10 games together they have produced 11 goals and 36 points. Steve Downie will replace Raffl on that line against the Coyotes.

FLYERS

Steve Downie - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Scott Hartnell - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Zac Rinaldo - Sean Couturier - Vincent Lecavalier

Jay Rosehill - Chris VandeVeldeAdam Hall

Braydon Coburn - Kimmo Timonen

Mark Streit - Nicklas Grossmann

Luke Schenn - Andrej Meszaros

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: Hall Gill,

Injured: Erik Gustafsson (knee), Matt Read (upper body), Michael Raffl (concussion)

COYOTES

Lauri KorpikoskiMartin HanzalRadim Vrbata

Shane DoanAntoine VermetteMikkel Boedker

Tim KennedyMike RibeiroDavid Moss

Kyle ChipchuraJeff HalpernRob Klinkhammer

Keith YandleDerek Morris

Connor Murphy -- Rostislav Klesla

David SchlemkoMichael Stone

Mike Smith

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: David Rundblad, Paul Bissonnette,

Injured: Zbynek Michalek (lower body), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (upper body)

Quote of the Day

You don't see many. The [Drew] Doughtys, the [P.K.] Subbans, those are guys that create offense from the back and then on top of that ability, the size that he has. In the West you play against some pretty big players, and being able to clear the crease and contain the [Ryan] Getzlafs and the [Corey] Perrys and [Anze] Kopitars and players like that, we're excited about him going back there.

— Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Brent Burns returning back to defense