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Coyotes' Hanzal, Oilers' Yakupov likely to return

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- Martin Hanzal and Nail Yakupov are each expected to draw back into his respective lineup Friday night when the Edmonton Oilers host the Phoenix Coyotes.

Hanzal has been out of the Coyotes' lineup for the past two games with a lower-body injury. The Coyotes have lost both games without him.

"It looks like he'll be back in," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "It'll come down to game time, but he practiced all right and there were no indications that he took a step back, so that's a good sign.

"He's a big guy that plays in all situations. He's a big, hard guy to play against and obviously him and Radim Vrbata have teamed up to be a good pair for us. It's a really noticeable difference when he's out of our lineup. When he steps back in, and continues to play the way that he has been the last couple of months, it will be a big positive for us."

Hanzal has 14 goals and 34 points in 45 games for the Coyotes this season. Vrbata leads the team in scoring with 11 goals and 35 points.

"We'll see how it goes, I'll take the warm-up and see if I'm able to play," Hanzal said. "Now with the schedule the way it is, where we play every other day, I don't want to rush it back and do the same thing again.

"I want to take it easy, but it's always tough when you can't help your teammates. We now lost two in a row and it's always tough just watching your teammates and not being able to help them."

The Coyotes have lost six of their past eight games and have fallen out of a Stanley Cup Playoffs spot in the Western Conference.

The Oilers are winless in their past five games and are currently last in the Western Conference standings.

Yakupov missed the previous two games with a head injury after being hit by Minnesota Wild left wing Matt Cooke last Thursday. Yakupov was forced to leave the game, but was soon back practicing with the team.

He had to undergo concussion protocol before being cleared to play.

"It was hard not playing, I just watched the games from upstairs [press box]," Yakupov said. "I'm OK now and I'm ready to go. The hit wasn't that bad, the doctor just wanted me to take a little break and be ready for [Friday]. I've been practicing, I've been skating and I'm ready to go."

Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal for the Oilers. Mike Smith gets the start for the Coyotes.

Here are the projected lineups for the Coyotes and Oilers:


Lauri Korpikoski - Antoine VermetteMikkel Boedker

Tim KennedyMartin HanzalRadim Vrbata

Shane DoanMike RibeiroDavid Moss

Rob KlinkhammerKyle ChipchuraJeff Halpern

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Zbynek Michalek

Keith YandleDerek Morris

David SchlemkoMichael Stone

Mike Smith

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Paul Bissonnette, David Rundblad, Jordan Szwarz

Injured: None


Taylor HallRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle

Ryan SmythSam GagnerDavid Perron

Jesse JoensuuBoyd GordonNail Yakupov

Matt HendricksMark ArcobelloRyan Jones

Andrew FerenceJustin Schultz

Martin MarincinJeff Petry

Corey PotterAnton Belov

Ilya Bryzgalov

Ben Scrivens

Scratched: Nick Schultz, Luke Gazdic

Injured: Ales Hemsky (foot), Philip Larsen (illness)

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