GLENDALE – The Coyotes practiced for 45 minutes inside Jobing.com Arena on Friday morning. It was an extremely business-like workout and all of the drills were geared toward playing faster and executing better in all zones.
The Coyotes will have two more days without a game this weekend to think about their five-game win-less streak before Monday’s home game vs. Detroit.
Goalie Mike Smith did not practice on Friday – his 31st birthday. Smith, of course, left Thursday’s game after two periods after being charged and hit in the head behind the net by Vancouver’s Alex Edler in the second period. Earlier in the game, Smith collided with Vancouver's Daniel Sedin and needed a few moments to regain his composure.
“He’s day-to-day,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said after Friday’s practice. “With a day off tomorrow we’ll see where he gets. He saw the doctor this morning and he came in and had a little treatment. ... We’ll see if he feels good enough to practice on Sunday. But as of right now, that’s all I can say.”
Goaltenders Coach Sean Burke filled in for Smith, who is dealing with whiplash symptoms, at Friday’s practice. Backup Jason LaBarbera tended the other net. Should he need to play Monday, LaBarbera would enter with confidence thanks to a .967 save percentage over his last five outings.
After Monday’s game the Coyotes, who are in 11th place in the Western Conference standings, will hit the road for three games in four nights – at Minnesota, Nashville and San Jose.
“This will be a telltale week for us,” Tippett said.
Indeed it will.
Tippett said he was pleased the players staged an impromptu, players-only meeting after Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Vancouver. He said sometimes those meetings can generate a good response.
He also said the team has reached the point in the season where trading wins and losses won’t cut it. In other words, a lengthy winning streak is needed right away.
“Right now we’re just not doing enough to win,” Tippett said. “A lot of guys try hard but it’s what you do after you try hard that sometimes dictates wins. For the most part, I never question our players’ effort. We’ve got a good group and the work ethic is usually there, but doing things the right way and executing better and executing faster to give yourself a better chance to win is what we’re trying to get to here.”
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