GLENDALE -- The Coyotes embarked on a four-game Eastern Conference road trip today fresh off a disappointing 4-1 loss at San Jose on Saturday night and an early-morning practice on Monday.
After the brief but up-tempo practice, Head Coach Dave Tippett discussed how important it is to gather points on this early-season trip.
“We have to give ourselves a better chance to win road games, especially when your goaltender plays as well as he has,” Tippett said. “That’s really one of the things that we really wanted to focus on this year is how do you go and win in hard circumstances and our first test of it (on Saturday) wasn’t very good.”
The trip begins with a Tuesday meeting with the New York Islanders on Long Island. From there the Coyotes will play back-to-back games at Detroit and Philadelphia before closing out the four-game stretch with a matinee game at Carolina on Sunday.
Forward Rob Klinkhammer talked after Monday’s practice about the challenges of the trip and how it’s a good opportunity to start improving upon last season’s 7-10-7 record away from Jobing.com Arena.
“It’s going to be a tough swing for us,” said Klinkhammer, who notched six points in 13 road games last season. “It’s tough going on the road. There’s a lot of travel, but we’ve got to put that behind us, that’s a factor for everybody. We’ve just got to battle through it and these are important points for us. We’ve got to get out to a quick start, we’ve got to put San Jose behind us but learn from it. We can’t focus on that. These are four huge games and we need these points.”
Forward Chris Brown added that, not only will these be tough teams to play against, but they will also be intense environments to play in.
“Joe Louis Arena is a tough building to play in,” Brown said. “And Philly is a tough place to play. Those guys are pretty passionate about their team. Carolina has a good team, a high-powered offense again. So, it’s going to be a tough building but I think we can use that energy to our advantage and shut them down.”
The game in Detroit will be a homecoming of sorts for Brown, who will be making his first appearance at Joe Louis Arena in an NHL sweater.
“I’ll probably have a couple people there, but it’s going to be fun,” said Brown, who tallied 80 points over three seasons at the University of Michigan. “I played a number of games there growing up through USA Hockey and through Michigan. I guess it’s an advantage. I kind of know what’s going on in that building and I’ve been there. So, I’m looking forward to it.”
Enforcer Paul Bissonnette is eligible to return to the lineup for Thursday’s game in Detroit following his three-game suspension, and injured defenseman Rostislav Klesla, who was taken from the ice on a stretcher during the preseason opener on Sept. 15, also could return to the lineup as early as Thursday, too.
“I'm just thankful that nothing worse happened,” Klesla told reporters. “.. I was able to have a quick recovery and be back playing soon."
Meanwhile, defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Derek Morris were held out of Monday’s practice because of upper-body injuries and are day-to-day, according to Tippett.
NOTE: Prospect Jordan Szwarz, one of the last players cut at training camp, was named the captain of the Portland Pirates, the Coyotes’ top affiliate in the American Hockey League.