GLENDALE – Before departing on their final road trip of the regular season on Monday morning, the Coyotes took the ice inside Jobing.com Arena on Sunday for what Head Coach Dave Tippett called a much-needed practice.
"We had a good tempo," Tippett said after the nearly one-hour workout, the theme of which was going hard to the net. "We (needed) to get out there and just get making some plays and just get some flow back in our game. The game the other night (on Friday) looked really choppy… So, (it was a) good practice today with flow and speed and getting the pucks going to the net. That’s what it was all about."
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
The Coyotes will depart for their trip Monday morning having lost four games in a row (0-2-2) and trailing eighth-place Dallas by just one point in the Western Conference standings. Phoenix's first stop will be at Columbus for a game on Tuesday and then it’s off to Nashville for a Thursday night contest. The Coyotes have posted a 14-9-2 record at Columbus and Nashville since Tippett took over as head coach before the 2009-10 season.
An afternoon practice in Columbus was slated for Monday.
"(For) every team, at different points in the season, practice is a good thing and other times rest is a better thing," Tippett said. "Right now, this last stretch here, we haven't had much choice. The rest has taken precedent over practice, but this is the one time where we feel like we can adjust some things."
Goalie Mike Smith, who hasn't played since suffering a lower-body injury on March 24, practiced with the team on Sunday for about half of the workout. He took shots from teammates, and afterward Tippett said Smith would accompany the team on its trip and continue to practice.
"He’s going to be day-to-day until he can play," Tippett said. "It's his call when he feels like he's capable of playing. That's when he'll play."
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• Center Martin Hanzal, who left Friday’s game because of a lower-body injury, did not practice on Sunday but might be back on the ice Monday afternoon when the Coyotes practice in Columbus.
• Defenseman David Schlemko, who is nursing a lower-body injury, practiced on Sunday and will travel with the team this week.
• Prospect Lucas Lessio notched the first hat trick of his pro career on Saturday when he scored all three goals for the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League in its 4-3 loss to Manchester.
• The Coyotes are asking fans to select the recipient of the team’s hardest working player award for the 2013-14 season. Fans can vote at phoenixcoyotes.com/hardestworkingplayer for one of the seven nominees: Kyle Chipchura, Shane Doan, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Lauri Korpikoski, Zbynek Michalek, Antoine Vermette or Keith Yandle.
Voting for the award ends April 7. The award will be presented to the top vote getter on Fan Appreciation Night on April 13, before the game vs. the Dallas Stars.