GLENDALE – The Coyotes haven’t played a game since Saturday and in some ways the four-day break is a good thing as various players nurse some assorted bumps and bruises.
On the other hand, the players are champing at the bit to play another game after a big win over Tampa Bay last time out, which many observers believe was the team’s best game of the season.
Even Head Coach Dave Tippett, who is always looking for his team to improve, was quite impressed by the effort against the Lightning.
“I thought we managed the puck as well as we have all year and made good plays out of our zone,” Tippett said after Wednesday’s practice. “We didn’t turn it over in the neutral zone, and in the offensive zone we had a lot more offensive zone time than we had the two previous games.”
In addition, the Coyotes (14-4-3) were called for only two penalties, and they set a season-high by scoring six goals, with six different players lighting the lamp.
“We have good players and we have good depth,” center Antoine Vermette said. “Eventually if you keep doing the little things over and over and pay attention to the details you’re going to break the opponent down and create some chances out of it. We’ve done that and we’ve generated some offense.”
He added, “We can get goals from different angles and different guys. It never seems to be the same guy, which is great and we take a lot of pride in that.”
The Coyotes rank second in the NHL with 73 goals in 21 games. That’s a lot of goals for a team that in past years preferred to play/win low-scoring games.
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
“I still think our team would rather win 3-1 than 6-4, but we’ll take any win,” center Mike Ribeiro said. “It’s good to have more than one line that can score, especially nowadays when you need at least three lines and hope that your fourth line will get you a big goal here and there. I think the most important thing is that we know that we can come back in games and play 60 minutes and stay focused throughout.”
The Coyotes practiced Tuesday and Wednesday after taking Sunday off and then playing an all-day golf outing for Coyotes Charities on Monday.
“It’s time to get back to work now,” Tippett said after Wednesday's practice. “That was the message today. It’s time to put the golf in the rear-view mirror and get back to playing.”
• Injury updates
Forward Lauri Korpikoski did not skate on Wednesday as he continues to nurse an upper-body injury. He is considered day-to-day. As insurance, the Coyotes recalled forward Tim Kennedy from the American Hockey League, and on Wednesday he practiced on the line with center Martin Hanzal and winger Radim Vrbata.
Meanwhile, defenseman Zbynek Michalek skated briefly on Wednesday. Tippett said he does not believe Michalek's lower-body injury is long-term.
After practicing on Tuesday, defensemen Derek Morris and David Schlemko practiced again on Wednesday.
“They both look like they got through two full practices so that's a good sign," Tippett said.
Morris has been on the injured reserve list because of a lower-body injury. Schlemko is nursing a lower-body injury, too.
• Tippett on Murphy
Many fans were disappointed when the Coyotes sent defenseman Connor Murphy back to the American Hockey League on Sunday less than 24 hours after he played well in his first NHL game and scored his first NHL goal.
But Murphy was recalled only because of injuries to starters, and he knew his stay was temporary.
"We had two right-handed defenders that were out of the lineup and he's a right-handed defender, so he came in," Tippett explained. "But now with Morris and possibly (Michalek) coming back, he's got to continue to hone his skills and learn the game down at the American League level. He's a good young player and he's going to have a great future but ... this is only his first year pro and he's still got lots to learn... He's better off playing 25 minutes a game down there than sitting here or being a healthy a scratch here."