GLENDALE – The Coyotes departed on a four-game trip vs. Eastern Conference teams on Monday morning looking to climb the standings.
With no back-to-back games on the eight-day journey to Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and then Buffalo, goalie Mike Smith is expected to carry most, if not all, of the workload in net.
And that’s just fine with him.
Smith stopped 30 of 32 shots in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Carolina; the ‘Canes scored an empty-net goal. On Sunday, Smith said he was quite pleased with his performance in the defeat.
"I felt really confident coming out of that game and probably the most comfortable that I've felt all year," Smith said. “And if I told you the reason why, I think you guys would think either I'm crazy or I'm full of myself.”
He did not elaborate.
Smith is from Kingston, Ontario, which is about a 160-mile drive from Toronto, the second stop on this trip.
“It’s close to home so I’ve got lots of family and friends coming to the game,” Smith said. “Any time you play near home it’s always special. Living out west now it’s a lot tougher for people to come see me, but it’ll be a nice time to see everyone.”
Captain Shane Doan did not accompany the team to Montreal on Monday although Head Coach Dave Tippett said Doan, who hasn’t played since Dec. 4 because of illness, might join the team at some point on this trip.
“He’s going to stay (in Arizona) and get a little more rest,” Tippett said after Sunday’s practice. “When you’re sick, you’ve got some fatigue, and that’s going to take a few days to get over. I think that’s the biggest issue right now.”
NOTE: Click here to watch Doan discuss his illness/recovery.
The Coyotes departed Monday ranked ninth in the western Conference standings with 41 points, two behind eighth-place Minnesota.
“It’s not good enough,” forward Rob Klinkhammer said. “We’re going to have to try and stay focused and stay sharp (on this trip). We’re coming up to the Christmas break here (so we’ve got to) just give everything we have in these four games.”
Unlike Doan, forward Lauri Korpikoski, who hasn’t played since Nov. 16 because of an upper-body injury, did fly with the team to Montreal. So did defenseman Derek Morris, who rejoined the team over the weekend after attending to a family matter last week.
Forward Gilbert Brule has been a healthy scratch since being recalled from the American Hockey League last week. He is likely to make his season debut on this trip.
"I'm very excited," Brule said. "I've been working hard down there (in the AHL) just to get the opportunity to come up here. Hopefully I'll get in the lineup soon and get a chance to show myself."
Brule played 33 regular-season games and 12 playoff games for the Coyotes in 2011-12.
Prospect Andy Miele, who notched his first pro hat trick on Saturday playing for the Portland Pirates, on Monday was named the American Hockey League’s Player of the Week. Miele notched three goals and two assists in Portland’s 5-1 win over Worcester on Saturday, and eight points in three games for the week.
• Prospect Max Domi of the London Knights on Monday was named the Ontario Hockey League's Player of the Week after leading the league in scoring with 11 points in four games for the week ending Dece 15.
Domi, whom the Coyotes selected with the 12th overall pick in this year's NHL Draft, notched five goals and six assists last week.
|Back to top ↑|