Coyotes hit the road with Smith, Hanzal ready to return
Goaltender Mike Smith and first-line center Martin Hanzal appear ready to rejoin the Coyotes' lineup for this week's two-games-in-two-nights road trip to Calgary and Vancouver.
“They're both going to accompany us on the trip,” Tippett said following Tuesday's practice. “Both of them had a good, hard practice again today. If there are no repercussions tomorrow morning and they're ready to go, we'll put 'em in.”
Smith has been out of action since Oct. 18, and Louis Domingue (4-8-0, 3.42 goals-against average) has made 11 of 12 starts in the interim. Tippett said the two goalies will split the two games on the trip. Domingue had a rough stretch immediately after Smith's injury but has held opponents to two goals or fewer in four of his last six games, recording a save percentage north of .925 in each of those four games.
Hanzal hasn't played since Oct. 29, missing six games. He's the team's most-skilled center in the face-off circle and a major part of the power-play and penalty-kill units, so his absence has had ripples throughout the lineup.
“They're two good veteran players,” Tippett said.” Anytime you get your No. 1 goalie back, that gives your club a boost. And Marty Hanzal, we know the importance he has on our team as a centerman just to stabilize us in that position.”
The games against Calgary (5-10-1) and Vancouver (6-9-1) start a string of eight consecutive games against Pacific Division opponents for the Coyotes (5-9-0), who view this as an opportunity to move up from their last place standing in the Western Conference.
“We need to raise our desperation and compete,” defenseman Connor Murphy said. “We need to turn it around before things slip away from us.”
Prior to leaving for Canada, the Coyotes assigned rookie center Christian Dvorak and veteran goalie Justin Peters to the Tucson Roadrunners of the American Hockey League, opening up roster spots for Hanzal and Smith.
Dvorak, 20, has one goal and four assists while playing in 12 games. Peters has started just one game in goal, posting an 0-1-0 record and 3.16 goals-against average.
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