Eight games in Glendale, four hat tricks.
Remarkably, that’s the current ratio for three-goal games by Coyotes players at Jobing.com Arena this season. Lee Stempniak, Ed Jovanovski, Vernon Fiddler and Ray Whitney
all have scored three times in a game this season on home ice. Even more remarkably, all four entered the games in which they notched their hat tricks with zero goals.
“This is my sixth year in the league and the first time I’ve ever been on a team with one hat trick let alone four in 17 games,” Stempniak said. “It’s pretty strange but it’s definitely fun to be part of; to get one and to see the other guys get one. I think the whole team feeds off something like that, and it’s certainly a reflection on how well we’ve played.”
The Coyotes won all four games in which the hat tricks occurred.
|Vernon Fiddler proudly displays his hat-trick pucks. Photo by Norm Hall. |
"We're trying to stimulate the economy, selling hats," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett joked. "... it's funny how it's gone. Sometimes you just have things that happen and we've been fortunate to have some guys step up and do well."
Hat tricks are up across the NHL this season. Through the first 247 contests, 20 players notched a three-goal game. According to NHL.com, that’s the most at this point in a season since 1994-95, when there were 22.
to read more about NHL hat tricks this season.
For those of you wondering what happens to the hats the players receive from fans, it’s pretty simple: Arena staffers gather them off the ice, bag them, and then place the hats in the players’ space within the dressing room for him to find once the game ends. Most players, I’m told, donate the hats to shelters.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan
skated by himself at Jobing.com Arena on Monday for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury vs. Dallas on Nov 5.
Doan’s status now sounds as if it's day-to-day instead of week-to-week, as he will accompany the team on Tuesday when it departs for a six-day, three-game trip to western Canada. He likely will skate with teammates again on Wednesday or Thursday and then be re-evaluated.
I popped into General Manager Don Maloney’s office the other day and asked him to explain why rookie defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson
, whom some observers touted as a Calder Trophy candidate before the season started, recently was sent to the American Hockey League.
“We noticed some hesitancy in his game the last few weeks, especially with the puck,” Maloney said. “We know he’s a terrific skater and a terrific young player, however what we’ve seen from him as the season has gone along is him making some mistakes in his own end and being a little reluctant to handle the puck, and that all goes back to confidence. So, we figured we’d send him back to San Antonio and let him play there for a little while, and hopefully he’ll regain the confidence and then will bring him back here.”
Maloney said Ekman-Larsson accepted the demotion without fuss and that there is no timetable mapped out for his return to the Coyotes.
“This not a league for maturing, learning and developing. This is a league for winning,” Maloney said. “Having said that, Oliver’s a very important player for us and I do believe he will be back with us real soon.”
• The Coyotes will practice at the Alltel Ice Den in Scottsdale on Tuesday at 11 a.m. before flying to Calgary. Fans are welcome to attend the practice.
Reach Dave Vest at firstname.lastname@example.org
and follow him on twitter @davest4yotes.