Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett orchestrated a challenging one-hour practice on Monday at Jobing.com Arena, and center Martin Hanzal
, who has missed the past six games because of a lower-body injury, completed it with his teammates.
With center Andrew Ebbett now back in the AHL, Hanzal, who has one goal and is plus-2 in four games, likely will return to the lineup on Wednesday when the Coyotes host the Nashville Predators.
“It’s been two weeks and I haven’t played in one game so I’m really excited to play and be back in the lineup, and I’ll do my best to (help the team) win the game,” Hanzal said.
The Coyotes posted a 2-2-2 record without Hanzal, who signed a new two-year contract with the team just before training camp began.
“Marty's return will help us reestablish our team identity,” General Manager Don Maloney said. “His strong defensive game will help reduce our scoring chances against and give us a big body presence at the center position. As a player who plays big minutes against top forwards on opposing teams, his return will give us a real boost.”
|Martin Hanzal likely will play Wednesday vs. Nashville. Photo by Getty Images. |
Returning from an early-season injury can be tricky because it takes players a few weeks in October to become accustomed to the physical demands of playing meaningful games every few days. Hanzal’s adjustment period to playing games again lasted just eight days before he suffered his injury on Oct. 17 in a game at Anaheim. In other words, he has basically had to go through a second training camp. Alone.
“I’ve never really been injured so early, in the beginning of the season,” Hanzal said. “It’s something new for me. (But) I was working pretty hard last week, skating hard. I feel I’m ready.”
Hanzal is eager to help the Coyotes become more consistent. As an observer, he noticed the team straying from last season’s winning formula.
“I think we’ve got to go back to basic stuff like we did last year when everybody played hard and we were rolling,” Hanzal said. ”I think we have to go hard to the net and get some shots. I think if we do that we’re going to start to win again.”