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THE DESERT DOG BLOG: SCHEDULE IS NOT AS BAD AS IT LOOKS

Tuesday, 03.09.2010 / 5:31 PM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
I spoke to several fans at the Coyotes Carnival on Sunday and more than one told me they were very concerned about how many road games the Coyotes have to play down the stretch and how that may affect the team’s bid to reach the playoffs. Yes, 11 of the team’s final 15 games are away from Glendale. Just hearing that sounds pretty bleak. But let’s take a closer look and put things into perspective.

After Wednesday’s home game vs. Vancouver, which starts at 8 p.m. and not the usual 7 p.m., the Coyotes will play four consecutive road games. All of those games will be at Southeast Division teams, none of which would be in the playoffs if the playoffs started today.

Then, after those games and a one-game homestand, the Coyotes will play their next three road games at Dallas, Chicago and Nashville. Tougher tests, for sure, but the Coyotes already are a combined 3-1-0 in those cities this season.

Phoenix’s final four road games promise to be challenging – at Vancouver, Calgary, Los Angeles and San Jose – but at that point logic suggests the Coyotes will not be playing to qualify for the playoffs but rather just jockeying for playoff seeding. In other words, the remaining schedule is not as daunting as it appears on paper.


Four of the five NHL players the Coyotes acquired before last week’s trade deadline already have played two games for Phoenix. The fifth, veteran defenseman Mathieu Schneider, probably won’t make his Coyotes debut until this weekend.

Schneider is nursing a minor knee injury but he has been practicing with the Coyotes the past few days. On Tuesday, he was playing the point on one of the power-play units during some drills. That makes sense considering 100 of his 223 career NHL goals are power-play goals.

    Schneider
Schneider, 40, has played for nine NHL teams in his NHL career, including four of the six Original Six teams – Montreal, Toronto, New York and Detroit.

Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett knows Schneider from when both were in the LA Kings organization.

“He has seen a lot of situations,” Tippett said. “...He’s a good player who wants to contribute and he still feels like he has a lot to give. I think he’ll be a very positive influence in our group whether he’s in the lineup everyday or whether he's just a player that can help our power play or whatever role he's given.”


While watching Tuesday’s practice with some of the team’s broadcasters, I mentioned that Schneider had played for four of the Original Six teams.

“I wonder if there are any players who ever played for all six?” I asked aloud. After a few half-hearted guesses and some lame jokes, we quickly moved on to another topic. A few hours later, I received a text message from Play-By-Play Announcer Dave Strader that informed me that only one player – left wing Vic Lynn – had played for all six Original Six teams. Kudos to Strades/The Elias Sports Bureau for putting that issue to rest.

• Center Robert Lang has not practiced the past few days because of a lower-body and likely will not play on Wednesday vs. Vancouver. Lang, by the way, is closing in on the 1,000 NHL game milestone. Right now he has 989 NHL games on his resume.

• The Coyotes are expecting forward Viktor Tikhonov to rejoin the team in the near future. Tikhonov has played the majority of this season in Russia.

Thanks for reading.

Dave
thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com
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