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PRUCHA RETURNS TO THE ICE

Thursday, 02.25.2010 / 4:21 PM / Features
By Dave Vest
SCOTTSDALE -- Coyotes forward Petr Prucha on Thursday skated for the first time since suffering a scary upper-body injury on Feb. 13 against the Dallas Stars.

“I’m doing good and I’m ready to get back in the game,” said Prucha, who wore a non-contact yellow sweater at the team’s practice at the Alltel Ice Den.

Prucha and the team will evaluate how he feels on Friday morning before deciding if he can lose the yellow sweater for Friday’s practice.

Petr Prucha
Prucha suffered the injury after being slammed into the boards by Dallas forward James Neal. After the hit, Prucha lay motionless on the ice for several minutes, and then was removed from the ice on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital for observation. He was quickly released and returned to Jobing.com Arena before the game ended, but he did not return to the game.

On Thursday, Prucha said he has felt no lingering effects of the injury.

“I remember everything except the hit,” Prucha said. “I got hit hard and that’s what happens in hockey… I’m glad I’m recovering pretty good right now.”

By league mandate, Prucha was not permitted to skate or work out until Monday. After taking some off-ice tests earlier this week, Prucha was cleared to return to the ice. He’s hoping to be in the lineup on Tuesday when the Coyotes resume the season with a home game vs. St. Louis.

“It’s too soon to say if I will play because we still have four days (of practices),” Prucha said. “I feel really good right now, and I would say I will be ready but it can change like that so we’ve got to wait and see what’s going to happen after a practice like this.”

The Coyotes practiced for nearly two hours on Thursday.

“We’re just trying to make sure we’re all on the same page structure-wise and everybody’s getting enough action to get back into the flow of things,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “Today was a combination of doing things that are geared to our team play and getting our conditioning back.”

Specifically, the Coyotes worked on breakouts and power plays, and everyone except Prucha did some one-on-one contact drills.

Tippett watched closely and measured the compete level of the players.

“The way you get yourself back up to speed is to compete at your hardest and take yourself out of the comfort zone and go to a place where you’re earning extra conditioning,” Tippett said. “That’s what these guys are all about. Their compete level is not where it was two weeks ago, but by Tuesday it will be.”

Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and defenseman Zbynek Michalek, both of whom were eliminated from the Olympics in Wednesday’s quarterfinals, are expected to re-join the team at Sunday’s practice. Bryzgalov and Team Russia lost to Canada 7-3. Michalek and Team Czech Republic lost to Finland 2-0.

Defenseman Sami Lepisto is the lone Coyotes player still competing at the Olympics. Lepisto and Team Finland will play Team USA in one of Friday’s two semifinal games.
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