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Coyotes Managing Extended Break Between Games

Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 6:20 PM / Features
By Anthony Perez
GLENDALE -- Head Coach Dave Tippett led the Coyotes through an up-tempo practice that lasted an hour on Tuesday morning at Jobing.com Arena in preparation for Thursday’s home game against the Montreal Canadiens.

After playing three games in four days last week, including a 4-2 win over Edmonton on Saturday night, the players were given a day off on Sunday. Then, on Monday, most of the players did not skate before the team’s annual charity golf tournament.

Tippett spoke after Tuesday’s practice about this week’s not-so-hectic game schedule and how his team is approaching it.

Photo by Norm Hall.
“It’s a fine line between rest and preparation and very few times on your schedule do you have a situation like this,” Tippett said. “…Most of our veteran players, our older players, took two days off, and you could see the energy today. We had a great practice today; they’re a very focused group.”

Goaltender Mike Smith sees the gap in the game schedule as an excellent opportunity for him and his teammates to improve upon certain aspects of their game.

“That just makes practice that much more important when you have a little bit of downtime,” said Smith, who has won his last four starts. “But it’s been nice to have some time away from the rink, to rest and get your body feeling good, so when we do start this crazy, hectic stretch that you’re feeling good about your game.”

Forward Radim Vrbata, who has nine points in the last five games, talked about how important it was for him and his teammates to make the most of this short break in the schedule.

“You have to take advantage of this when you get it,” Vrbata said. “That schedule is only going to get worse. So, (we had) a couple days of rest and now a couple days of hard practices, like we had today. It kind of prepares you for what’s ahead.”

And what’s ahead for the Coyotes after Thursday is one of their longest trips of the season, a five-city stretch that will include stops in Toronto, Philadelphia and Washington. The Coyotes won’t play another home game after Thursday until Nov. 23.

Martin Hanzal
The break in the schedule is also allowing the team's injured players time to recover without missing more games.

Center Martin Hanzal skated with teammates on Tuesday but wore a non-contact sweater. Hanzal has missed the last two games because of a lower-body injury.

“He took positive steps ahead today, he got through the whole practice, and tomorrow he’ll probably go through the regular practice,” Tippett said. “We’ll probably throw him back on his line tomorrow and if he gets through that then I’d say there’s a good chance he’ll play Thursday.”

Meanwhile, defenseman Michal Rozsival skated, on his own, for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury in the season opener on Oct. 8 at San Jose.
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