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At the Rink: Coyotes at Jets

by Patrick Williams /

WINNIPEG -- Goaltender Anders Lindback could start for the Arizona Coyotes in place of Mike Smith when they visit the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday at MTS Centre (7 p.m. ET; SN, FS-A).

Arizona did not have a morning skate, but Smith did not participate in practice on Friday and is dealing with a lower-body injury. The Coyotes recalled goalie Marek Langhamer from Rapid City of the ECHL.

Coach Dave Tippett said Saturday that Smith was being evaluated by the Arizona medical staff and is "questionable" for the game.

"We'll see how it goes [with Smith's evaluation]," Tippett said.

Lindback last played Nov. 16 against the New York Islanders, allowing four goals on 31 shots in a 5-2 road loss.

The Jets received better news on the injury front and expect to have leading scorer Blake Wheeler in their lineup. Wheeler left practice Friday after a shot from defenseman Dustin Byfuglien hit him on the side of the head. The Winnipeg medical staff evaluated Wheeler and cleared him to participate in the morning skate.

"He's 100 percent," coach Paul Maurice said of Wheeler. "That's what he tells us. That's what the doctors say. He wouldn't tell you if he was 85 [percent] anyway. He's a tough kid. He'll play through it. But he had a big smile on his face skating around. He's fine."

Wheeler concurred he is ready to play.

"I feel well," said Wheeler, who has eight goals and 13 assists. "I don't think [it will affect me]. As long as I don't get hit in the same spot, it should be good. It was pretty painful. A puck right to the head is pretty painful. It was initially pretty bad. Luckily it hit me in a spot with a lot of bone."

But Wheeler also found humor in the situation.

"I'm 6-foot-5," Wheeler said. "It's kind of a long ways to shoot up to hit somebody in the head, but [Byfuglien] is pretty incredible."

Maurice and Wheeler each expect a difficult challenge from an opponent that has surprised in the first quarter of the season.

"[Arizona] works hard," Wheeler said. "They're a young bunch, and they're pretty quick, so it's going to be a tough challenge."

Maurice sees a different Arizona team than the one that finished last in the Pacific Division in 2014-15. The Coyotes will finish a four-game road trip that is 1-2-0; six of their past seven games have been on the road (4-2-0).

"They're going to play a really solid, hard, structured game," Maurice said. "Hard on the pucks. There's not going to be a lot of easy puck movement. It's not going to be necessarily a free-flowing game, but [there is] quite a bit more speed in their game than you would remember from [the 2014-15] team."

Maurice will give goaltender Ondrej Pavelec his second consecutive start as the Jets continue a three-game homestand.

Here are the projected lineups:


Tobias Rieder - Martin Hanzal - Anthony Duclair

Max Domi - Brad Richardson - Mikkel Boedker

Jordan Martinook - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan

Kyle Chipchura - Boyd Gordon - Craig Cunningham

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michael Stone

Philip Samuelsson - Connor Murphy

Klas Dahlbeck - Zbynek Michalek

Mike Smith

Anders Lindback

Injured: Steve Downie (upper body), Nicklas Grossmann (lower body), Joe Vitale (broken orbital bone)

Scratched: Stefan Elliott, John Scott


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Drew Stafford

Nikolaj Ehlers - Alexander Burmistrov - Chris Thorburn

Adam Lowry - Andrew Copp - Anthony Peluso

Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers

Adam Pardy - Dustin Byfuglien

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back)

Scratched: Ben Chiarot, Paul Postma

Status report: Grossmann is not expected to dress, according to the Arizona Republic…Postma will be a healthy scratch for the fifth consecutive game and the 19th time in the first 21 games…Chiarot will not play for the fifth time in the past seven games.

Who's hot: Ekman-Larsson has a career-high seven-game points streak (three goals, four assists)…Duclair (one goal and three assists) and Hanzal (two goals and one assist) each have three-game points streaks.

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