GLENDALE – After a day off – and a night of watching other teams jockey for position in the Western Conference standings – the Coyotes reassembled for practice and off-ice workouts on Tuesday afternoon at Jobing.com Arena. After practice, the players mingled with season-ticket holders at an exclusive meet and greet staged within the arena.
Forward Radim Vrbata
, who has missed the past few games because of illness, practiced with teammates. So did defenseman Adrian Aucoin
, who hasn’t played since March 14 because of a lower-body injury.
After practice, Head Coach Dave Tippett said both players would practice again on Wednesday. Their availability for Thursday’s critical home game vs. San Jose, Tippett said, would be determined after that practice.
“If they get through tomorrow I’d say there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be playing on Thursday, but we’ll see how that goes,” Tippett said.
Meanwhile, forward Taylor Pyatt
, who hasn’t played since suffering an upper-body injury on March 18, skated alone before practice started.
“He’s making some progress,” Tippett said.
• Three of Phoenix’s final five opponents are teams that are not heading to the playoffs: Anaheim, Columbus and Minnesota.
"It doesn’t matter,” Tippett said. “We’re in a position where we have to win so the opponent is inconsequential. It’s about us finding ways to win."
• Captain Shane Doan
, who has missed the past three games because of an NHL suspension, is eager to return to the lineup on Thursday vs. San Jose.
“You never want to be in the situation I’m in where you’re missing three games with eight to go,” Doan said. “That’s awful. You want to be out there helping your teammates and doing what you can to contribute.”
►Click here to watch an exclusive interview with Doan conducted after Tuesday’s practice.
• Forward Scott Arnold
, whom the Coyotes signed on Friday after his sophomore season at Niagara University, on Tuesday practiced with the team for the first time.
Arnold, 21, said he was nervous for the first 10-15 minutes but grew more comfortable on the ice because the players made him feel welcome.
“It was pretty special and really exciting,” Arnold said after his first NHL practice. “I think I had a smile on my face the whole time. It’s a great group of guys and overall I’m extremely excited. It’s just amazing to be here.”
Tippett said the plan is for Arnold to practice and observe.
“He can have a look around and get a feel for the organization but right now there’s no plans to play him whatsoever,” Tippett said. “… That could change if we get into serious injury problems but right now he’s just a young player getting his first experience in the NHL.”
And that’s OK with Arnold.
“I know they’re in the thick of the playoff run here,” Arnold said. “If there’s anything I can do to help this team, whether it’s just in practice or if they give me an opportunity in a game, I’m just going to show the coaches and everyone what I am capable of doing, and hopefully I can help out the team.”