Getting traded still is a new experience for Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesla
so forgive him if he’s not sure what to expect when he takes the ice against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes acquired Klesla from Columbus on Feb. 28 in exchange for forward Scottie Upshall and defenseman Sami Lepisto. Thursday’s game will be Klesla’s first against the team that drafted him fourth overall in 2000 and for which he played 515 games.
“I’m sure it will be kind of weird to play against my old friends,” Klesla said after Wednesday’s practice. “…It should be interesting. I’m just hoping that we’re going to get the win.”
The Blue Jackets have fallen out of the playoff race since the trade, and Klesla, 29, is pleased he’s on track to return to the postseason – with the Coyotes – for the first time since 2008-09. He and the Blue Jackets were swept by the Detroit Red Wings, 4-0, in the first round of the playoffs that season.
“I’m enjoying my time here very nicely,” Klesla said. “When you win it’s great and we are getting the wins. We’ve just got to keep it going… When you win, guys are working hard, so it’s good to have teammates like that, that always work hard and are just always looking to win, every game.”
• The Coyotes have seven games left in the regular season, and three of those are against the first-place San Jose Sharks, the team Phoenix trails by one point in the Pacific Division standings.
While it’s only human nature to look forward to those showdowns, Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said the players would be focused on all of their opponents in the final two-plus weeks and not just the Sharks.
“We’ve talked about that and right now our schedule is one game at a time,” Tippett said. “We want to concentrate on the team we’re playing next (Columbus). Those are the most important points you can have – against the team you’re playing next. Everybody knows the schedule and they know where we’re at. San Jose is going to be a big challenge for us but we want to make sure that we put ourselves into position where we’d have a chance at a division title against San Jose. You can’t do that if you don’t take care of your business in other games. That’s the focus right now. ”
• Defenseman Ed Jovanovski practiced with teammates on Wednesday wearing a full cage on his helmet to protect his face/surgically-repaired orbital bones.
Jovanovski, who hasn’t played since suffering the injury during a game vs. Atlanta on Feb. 17, is hoping to return to the lineup for the last week of the regular season. That final week will be challenging for the Coyotes because they must play at Los Angeles (April 6) and then finish the regular season with a home-and-home series with San Jose (April 8 and 9).
• Paul Bissonnette
’s father has come to Phoenix to stay with his son for a few days. Cam Bissonnette watched Paul play in an NHL game for just the second time on Tuesday night vs. St. Louis and got to see his son take part in two fights.
As one might expect, Paul Bissonnette
is chronicling his father’s visit on his Twitter account – @BizNasty2point0.
Here’s a sampling: “Realizing having my dad in town is like having a kid. Wake him up in the a.m. for practice, feed him, and costs me money everywhere we go.”
The Bissonnettes are planning to attend the NBA game between the Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. They're psyched because their hometown is Welland, Ontario, which is about 80 miles from Toronto. Paul Bissonnette
said he and his dad are hoping they will get to meet Suns guard Steve Nash, a fellow Canadian.
Reach Dave Vest at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.