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'Yotes Notes: Chychrun, Goligoski Close to Returning

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE -- Goalie Antti Raanta practiced with teammates for more than an hour on Tuesday morning as the Coyotes prepared for a busy holiday weekend, but his return to Arizona's net likely will be delayed at least one more game.

Meanwhile, injured defensemen Alex Goligoski (lower-body) and Jakob Chychrun (upper-body) also practiced Tuesday without restrictions, and both are considered game-time decisions for Wednesday's home game vs. Vegas. 

"With these type of injuries, after a couple days it starts to get better a lot quicker," Head Coach Rick Tocchet said. 

Goligoski has missed the past five games. Chychrun has played in just one of the team's first 19 games because of separate injuries.

As for Raanta, it appears he'll be ready to return on Friday (vs. Colorado) or Sunday (vs. Calgary). He hasn't played since stopping 51 shots vs. Carolina on Nov. 2. Backup goalie Darcy Kuemper has started every game in Raanta's absence and posted a 2-4-1 record in those games. 

Raanta ranks fifth in the NHL in goals-against average (2.10) and fifth in save percentage (.929) among goalies who have played at least nine games. 

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Clayton Keller, who co-leads the team with 12 points, has been stuck on five goals for nine games. 

"I think he's done some really nice stuff this year," Tocchet said. "But teams are going to pay attention to him and he's going to have to change his game. I've talked to him about certain things. He's a darter and he's going to have to dart in and out of trouble. He's darting out, but he's not darting in sometimes. If someone is following him around the ice, he's going to have to drag them to the net so his linemate will get a chance. That's just experience, but he's a smart kid. We've talked about it and he's got to sense it, too. Sometimes there's danger and it's not the right time to try to beat a guy, so go and live another shift. Those are the little things where, if you add them up, will loosen things up."

• The Coyotes will be seeking their first home win vs. Vegas on Wednesday. The teams played twice in Glendale during Vegas's inaugural season, and the Golden Knights won both games; 2-1 in overtime on Oct. 7, and 4-2 on Nov. 25. 

• After playing just three of their first 19 games vs. Pacific Division opponents, the Coyotes will play two of the next three games vs. division foes (Vegas and Calgary). Heading into Tuesday's games, the Flames led the division with 25 points, but last-place Los Angeles was only 10 points behind.

"It's big," Tocchet said. "Those are four-point games. Everybody's bunched in. Nobody has really taken off from the pack. Division games are hugely important. We haven't been playing well the last couple of weeks. We're kind of on and off. You can't have that mind-set when you play a division game. It's almost like, I hate to say it, a playoff game. You have to have that mind-set."

• A few schedule notes:

Friday's home game vs. Colorado will begin at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than a regular weeknight game. Also, the Coyotes will wear their retro black uniforms, typically reserved for Saturday home games, for that game.

Sunday's game vs. Calgary will start at 1 p.m. The Coyotes will wear their road white sweaters for this game.

• Barrett Hayton, whom the Coyotes drafted fifth overall in June, is tearing it up for Sault Ste. Marie in the Ontario Hockey League.

Hayton, who spent the first week of the season with the Coyotes, has produced 11 goals and 15 assists in just 16 OHL games this season. Most recently, he notched two short-handed goals and two assists in a 6-5 OT victory over Windsor on Sunday to extend his point streak to nine games. Hayton has tallied three-shorthanded goals this season and five power-play goals.

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