GLENDALE – Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett on Monday said the team would again play minus captain Shane Doan on Tuesday when it takes on the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.
Doan missed Friday’s game at Vancouver because of illness and did not practice on Monday.
Defenseman Derek Morris and forward Lauri Korpikoski also will sit out Tuesday’s game, Tippett said. Morris has left the team to attend to a family matter and Korpikoski is still recovering from an upper-body injury. Tippett said he hopes Morris will re-join the team by the weekend.
On the flip side, defenseman Zbynek Michalek practiced with teammates for the first time in three weeks on Monday and might return to the lineup on Tuesday. Michalek has not played since Nov. 14 because of a lower-body injury.
“It’s a good step in the right direction,” Michalek said after Monday’s practice. “It feels good, especially mentally, to be with the guys again and to get the practice under my belt. Hopefully I keep improving and getting better.”
Michalek will take part in Tuesday’s morning skate in Denver and if he feels OK he will likely play in the game.
“It’s really hard to be out,” Michalek said. “It’s not fun. I want to be out there and help the guys win… It’s felt like maybe three months not three weeks. I hope I can be back soon and be playing again.”
While he’s beyond eager to return, Michalek realizes that the season is a marathon, not a sprint.
“Even though I’m anxious to get back, we have to be smart about it,” Michalek said. “It’s a long season and we are only 30 games in so we’ve got a long way to go and I don’t want to make something even worse (by playing too soon) and be out for an even longer period of time.”
Tippett, too, is eager for Michalek to return.
“There’s a lot of parts of the game that he touches,” Tippett said. “You look at penalty killing and defending, the areas we’re trying to improve in, (those) are areas that’s his M.O. Getting him back would certainly help those areas.”
Regarding Doan, Tippett said he leaves big skates to fill.
“He’s a big piece of our puzzle, but if he’s out other guys have to take more (responsibility) and have to step up,” Tippett said. “He’s a big player that plays with skill. He plays hard and in front of the net on the power play and provides leadership in the dressing room. But there are players that we have that can take some of that slack.”
Center Antoine Vermette, who, with Doan sidelined, was named a third alternate captain in last Friday’s game, likely will wear the third ‘A’ until Doan returns.
Vermette, who ranks fifth in the NHL with a 58.4 faceoff percentage, will play his 700th NHL game on Tuesday.
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