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The Desert Dog Blog: Coyotes Embrace Challenging Trip

Monday, 11.14.2011 / 2:28 PM MT / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
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The Desert Dog Blog: Coyotes Embrace Challenging Trip
GLENDALE – The Coyotes departed on a four-game trip on Monday morning that will pit them against four of the Eastern Conference’s top six teams over a seven-day span.

The team, which blanked the Sharks 3-0 in San Jose on Saturday night, practiced for 45 minutes before leaving Arizona for Toronto. After Tuesday’s game vs. the Maple Leafs, Phoenix will head to Philadelphia, Buffalo and then Washington before heading home.

Photo by Norm Hall.
“It’s going to be a tough trip but it’s going to show what kind of team we have at the end,” said goalie Mike Smith, who has won three straight road games and allowed just five goals in those games.

Coyotes captain Shane Doan agreed with Smith about the difficulty of this lengthy journey.

“It’s a tough one,” Doan said in an interview a few hours before the team’s flight, “… but it’s fun, too. It’s a great challenge and you get an opportunity to play against teams you don’t normally get to see and compare yourself to the teams that are playing well.”

During this trip, the Coyotes will face the NHL’s top goal scorer (Toronto’s Phil Kessel), their former star goaltender (Philadelphia’s Ilya Bryzgalov), a team in the midst of a goalie controversy (the Sabres) and the Eastern Conference’s top home team (the Capitals). Nevertheless, the Coyotes are a team that has thrived on the road this season with a 4-1-1 record; their only loss in regulation away from Glendale occurred in the season opener on Oct. 8 at San Jose. Moreover, Phoenix has outscored opponents, 21-14, in road games this season, and those 14 goals against are tied for second fewest in the NHL.

Lauri Korpikoski
“We’ve been good on the road and our last game against San Jose was solid, so we’re pretty confident going in (to the trip),” forward Lauri Korpikoski said. “We just have to play the same way we did against San Jose on Saturday. I’m not worried about us playing well. I think our style of hockey fits pretty well on the road.”

• Center Daymond Langkow remains on a leave of absence because of a death in his family.

• Defenseman Michal Rozsival, who has been out since Oct. 8 because of an upper-body injury, continues to skate on his own and did not accompany the team on this trip.

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