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by Russell Brooks / Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes returned to Arena on Monday after a five-day layoff, their longest of the season, for the NHL All-Star break.

All players participated - sans All-Star Shane Doan and YoungStar Mikkel Boedker - in an hour-long practice that was geared toward getting the players' bodies and minds back into game shape.

“It was a good practice today and we did a lot of good things,” Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky, who celebrated his 48th birthday on Monday, said. “The energy level was high and everyone was excited.”

Defenseman Keith Yandle agreed.

“It was a really good practice,” Yandle said. “In the beginning, we were getting the legs going in some full-ice drills. The coaches put it together well, especially after having five days off. We got a good sweat.”

Defenseman Derek Morris believes it will take a little time to get the legs back.

“The legs were a little heavy,” Morris said. “We all rode the bike to stay in shape while we were off, but we didn’t skate. It just takes one good, hard skate and a pre-game skate (on Tuesday) to be ready.”


With the Coyotes playing their first game in seven days on Tuesday night against the Anaheim Ducks at Arena, a high-energy start is going to be crucial as the players try to get into the flow.

“They first 10 minutes are huge,” forward Joakim Lindstrom said. “We need to play a smart, solid hockey game and be determined in every area. It's important for us.”

Gretzky expects both teams to be rusty.

“Both teams are going to be behind the eight ball in the sense that they haven’t played in a while,” Gretzky said. “Once you get through the first 10 minutes, everyone is on equal footing and the teams will get going."


• Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will get his eighth consecutive start for the Coyotes on Tuesday night.

• Rookie Viktor Tikhonov participated in all drills with the Coyotes for the first time since his upper body injury. The timetable for his return is uncertain, according to Gretzky.

• Defenseman Kurt Sauer (lower body injury) is no longer using crutches, but he still is 10-14 days away from returning to the ice.
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