GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes have done a lot of lineup juggling and player shuffling thanks to sickness, injuries and suspensions early in the season. But the results have them sitting right in the thick of the NHL’s toughest division and playing especially tough at home.
The Coyotes will shoot for a three-game homestand sweep against the Nashville Predators on Thursday at Jobing.com Arena, where they are 5-0-1 this season as part of an 8-3-2 start.
The Coyotes will get back Lauri Korpikoski, who missed the past three games with an upper-body injury. But Phoenix will still be without defenseman Rostislav Klesla (lower body), center Jeff Halpern and center Martin Hanzal, who completes his two-game suspension for a charging offense against the Edmonton Oilers' Jeff Petry on Saturday.
In addition, defensemen Zbynek Michalek and David Schlemko both missed the morning skate Thursday with undisclosed injuries and are game-time decisions. With Klesla already out, the Coyotes have one extra defenseman (David Rundblad) and need either Michalek or Schlemko to play to have a full complement.
Thomas Greiss will make his second start of the year for the Coyotes in place of workhorse goalie Mike Smith. Greiss was impressive in his only other start, a 2-1 road win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 11, and has a 2.02 goals-against average in his three appearances.
Dave Tippett will be shooting for his 165th victory as coach of the Coyotes, which would tie Bob Francis for the all-time franchise record. If he wins Thursday, it will have taken Tippett only 308 games to accomplish the feat, a full season of exactly 82 games less than the 390 games Francis coached behind the Phoenix bench. In all, Tippett has 435 NHL coaching wins with the Dallas Stars (2002-2009) and Phoenix (2009-present).
Nashville begins a 16-day road trip and will likely go the distance without star goalie Pekka Rinne (hip). Rookie Carter Hutton, who was pulled after allowing six goals to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, gets the start against Phoenix.
The Predators will get defenseman Roman Josi back after missing three weeks with a concussion. Victor Bartley will sit to make room for Josi, while Predators coach Barry Trotz juggled his forward lines in the wake of the loss to the Blues.
Forwards Rich Clune and Filip Forsberg are healthy scratches, and the forward lines all have a new look for the Predators.
Eric Nystrom – David Legwand -- Patric Hornqvist
Gabriel Bourque - Matt Cullen - Craig Smith
Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Viktor Stalberg
Matt Hendricks - Paul Gaustad – Nick Spaling
Seth Jones – Shea Weber
Roman Josi -- Kevin Klein
Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis
Scratched: Filip Forsberg, Gabriel Bourque, Victor Bartley, Rich Clune
Injured: Pekka Rinne (hip)
Mikkel Boedker – Mike Ribeiro – Radim Vrbata
Rob Klinkhammer– Antoine Vermette – Shane Doan
Lauri Korpikoski – Andy Miele – David Moss
Jordan Szwarz – Kyle Chipchura – Paul Bissonnette
Zbynek Michalek – Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Keith Yandle – Derek Morris
David Schlemko – Michael Stone
Scratched: David Rundblad
Suspended: Martin Hanzal
Injuries: Rostislav Klesla (lower body), Jeff Halpern (upper body)