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At the Rink: Jets at Coyotes

by Jerry Brown /

SCOTTSDALE Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes will be without two of their more physical players Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets.

Center Martin Hanzal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek are out with upper-body injures.

Hanzal will miss his second game with an injury sustained late in a 6-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. Hanzal tied a personal best with four points in the game, but was unable to speak with reporters after the game and unable to play Tuesday after practicing Monday. He was developing good chemistry with wing Sam Gagner of late and the lack of offensive punch was noticeable in a 6-0 loss to the Blues on Tuesday.

"Marty is out tonight. Don't rule him out for Saturday (against the Ottawa Senators) but he's not quite there," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "Both he and Michalek are key players for us, but it opens an opportunity for someone else to see what they can do."

The Coyotes will play wing Lucas Lessio, recalled from the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League, and defenseman Chris Summers in the vacated spots.

The Jets will get defenseman Zach Bogosian back Thursday. He has missed 14 games with an injury and will play for the first time since Dec. 3 with partner Jay Harrison.

Arizona has won four of the past six games, but the Coyotes were outscored 12-0 in the two losses and have now allowed 128 goals in 40 games this season (3.3 per game). Winnipeg scored six times in a season-opening 6-3 win here on Oct. 9, with Blake Wheeler scoring two goals and adding an assist against the team that drafted him in 2006.

The starting goalie for each team is struggling and looking to prove himself. Ondrej Pavelec (10-9-5) will start for the second time in the past seven games and has lost his job to rookie Michael Hutchinson. Pavelec has only one win since Dec. 2, a victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 16.

For Arizona, Mike Smith allowed six goals on 39 shots Tuesday and his goals-against average rose to 3.57. He has just one win since Dec. 1 but will make his third consecutive start against the Jets.

"We have to get him playing better, it's as simple as that," Tippett said. "And the only way to get him to play better is to throw him back in there and see what happens. He made some great saves on some great quality chances (against the Blues); there were others where you'd like to see him stop them.

"That's the conundrum we've been in with him. He'll make two or three good saves and they have two or three good shots where you'd like one more save in there. We have to try to get him to improve."

Here are the projected lineups:


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Michael Frolik

TJ Galiardi - Adam Lowry - Matt Halischuk

Chris Thorburn - Jim Slater - Anthony Peluso

Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien

Jay Harrison - Zach Bogosian

Adam Pardy - Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Patrice Cormier, Keaton Ellerby

Injured: Grant Clitsome (upper body), Toby Enstrom (lower body), Evander Kane (lower body), Mark Stuart (lower body), Jacob Trouba (upper body)


Martin EratAntoine Vermette - Shane Doan

Lucas Lessio -- - Sam Gagner -- Mikkel Boedker

Tobias RiederKyle ChipchuraLauri Korpikoski

Brandon McMillanJoe VitaleDavid Moss

Oliver Ekman-LarssonMichael Stone

Keith YandleChris Summers

Brandon Gormley - Connor Murphy

Mike Smith

Devan Dubnyk

Scratched: B.J. Crombeen

Injured: Martin Hanzal, Zbynek Michalek

Status report: To make room for Bogosian's return, the Jets reassigned defenseman Julien Brouillette. Clitsome underwent surgery Wednesday and was placed on injured reserve.

Who's hot: Wheeler has four goals and eight points in eight games against the Coyotes and has a six-game point streak (two goals, five assists). … Little tied his career-best point streak at seven games (three goals, seven assists). He is one game shy of tying the longest point streak by a Jets player since the start of the 2011-12 season.

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