Coyotes notebook: Pouliot in for Hanzal
LOS ANGELES — Forward Marc-Antoine Pouliot will replace suspended center Martin Hanzal in the Coyotes’ lineup for Game 3 of the Western Conference final against the Kings on Thursday night.
Pouliot has appeared in five playoff games already, notching an assist, two penalty minutes and a plus-1 rating in two games against Chicago and three against Nashville. He hasn’t appeared in the team’s last three games.
“It’s not easy when you don’t know when you’re going to be back in the lineup,” he said. “You want to work hard in the practice and off the ice. Hopefully I’m going to prove to the team and everyone that I belong and I can help the team win.”
Pouliot’s skill set is clearly different from that of Hanzal, who creates space for wings Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney, matches up against other team’s skill players and plays both special teams.
“I’m not a Marty Hanzal type of player,” Pouliot said. “I’m just going to try to compete and be in on the forecheck and bring a little grit to the lineup.”
Rookie defenseman Michael Stone will make his second straight appearance for injured defensemen Adrian Aucoin and David Schlemko, who still does not have full mobility in the foot he injured earlier this season.
Stone will be paired with Rostislav Klesla. Klesla, a left-handed shot, will stay on the left side, although he said Thursday he’s actually more comfortable playing the right side.
Aucoin skated Thursday morning, but coach Dave Tippett said he is not ready to play. Aucoin’s injury is unknown.
For the Kings, forward Kyle Clifford will play a second straight game for Colin Fraser, who is still dealing with what the team has termed “family matters.”
Suspended forward Raffi Torres’ appeal of his 25-game suspension was heard Thursday morning by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Torres’ agent, Eustace King, did not immediately return phone messages left for him. The timeline on a ruling is unknown.
Torres is appealing the length of the suspension, not the suspension itself, arguing that there is no precedent. The Coyotes would not comment on the suspension, but few, if any, expect the length to be changed.
UNDERDOGS, AS USUAL
When asked if his team relishes the underdog role in which it finds itself again in this series, Tippett smiled and noted that someone recently sent him an email reminding him that many analysts had picked the Coyotes to finish 15th in the Western Conference after the loss of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in free agency.