GLENDALE – Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle returns to his beloved hometown of Boston as the team’s second-leading point producer and will enter Thursday’s game vs. the Bruins with a four-game assist streak.
"It's unbelievable how much (guys from Boston) love their hometown," captain Shane Doan said from the team's hotel on Wednesday. "'Yands' truly loves his hometown... He's excited about it (the game) and I'm sure there'll be some incentive for him to win."
And to get into the scoring summary.
Yandle has notched 262 NHL points but none of those have come in his hometown. Thursday's game will be only Yandle’s second in Boston since he broke into the NHL with Phoenix in 2006-07. His debut game in his hometown occurred on March 5, 2009. Yandle played 14:02 that night but he didn't notch a point. Phoenix won 2-1.
|Photo by Getty Images. |
Yandle, who in 2004-05 was named a New England prep school First Team All-Star at Cushing Academy, ranks second on the Coyotes with 45 points and first with 38 assists. Only Duncan Keith and Erik Karlsson have dished out more helpers this season among NHL defensemen. Recently, he became just the sixth defenseman in franchise history to reach 200 career assists.
Yandle, of course, made national headlines last April by publicly honoring victims of the deadly explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, which is about 10 miles from where he grew up. For a game played on the same day of the explosions, Yandle wrote “Pray for Boston” on one of his skates and wore it in the game.
"I just wanted to show my support of the city and just let everyone know that I was thinking about them," Yandle said at the time.
Five days later he honored eight-year-old victim Martin Richard by wearing a Coyotes sweater with the No. 8 and Martin's name on it for warm-ups before a game at Chicago. He later met the Richard family and presented them the sweater he wore.
In five games vs. Boston in his career, including two played in Prague, Yandle, who lists Bruins icon Ray Bourque as his all-time favorite player, has notched one goal and two assists.
Doan, by the way, will play in his 1,300th career NHL game on Thursday at Boston.
The franchise’s all-time leader in games played, Doan ranks fourth among active NHL players in games played and first among active NHL players with the same franchise.
Only 53 other NHL players have played 1,300 games or more. Moreover, Doan will also become just the 10th player in League history to reach 1,300 games for the same franchise.
Goalie Mike Smith has started the past six games and is 4-2-0 in those games. He stopped 162 of 175 shots faced (.926 save percentage) during that span.
"We’re not going to blow any teams out, and we have to play a certain way to win games," Smith said after stopping 31 of 32 shots vs. Florida on Tuesday. "…There’s been a lot more shots coming from outside, and, as a goalie, I think that’s all you can ask for."
Doan says Smith, who is expected to start Thursday's game at Boston, plays a critical role in the team's success.
"When he's our best player we're a good team and it makes the game that much easier," Doan said. "He hides a lot of mistakes... He bails us out and when he's doing that we're a tough team to beat because he's that good."
• Forward Martin Erat left the game vs. Florida on Tuesday after suffering an upper-body injury early in the first period. He did not return.
The Coyotes did not practice on Wednesday after flying to Boston so an update on Erat's condition likely will not be made public until Thursday’s morning skate in Boston.
• Don Maloney has been at the NHL General Managers Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., this week.
Click here to watch an interview with Maloney from NHL.com
• Prospects Max Domi and Henrik Samuelsson are tearing it up playing for their junior teams this season.
Domi has notched 90 points (33 goals, 57 assists) in 59 games playing for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. Samuelsson also is at 90 points (33 goals, 57 assists) in 63 games playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League.
Click here to see the most recent Prospects Report.