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The Desert Dog Blog: Torres Looking to Score More Goals

Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 5:19 PM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – Coyotes fans shouldn’t be too surprised that fourth-line forward Raffi Torres scored twice in Monday’s 4-3 loss at Los Angeles. Torres has proven throughout his NHL career that he can be a streaky goal scorer.

Raffi Torres
Torres has scored at least 12 goals in all but one of his past eight NHL seasons. His best year was in 2005-06 when he scored 27 goals for Edmonton in 82 games.

Torres is breaking in a new stick, but on Tuesday he said that’s not the main reason he scored twice vs. LA.

“I’m just feeling the puck a little bit more right now, and I’m just focused on shooting more pucks in practice and shooting to score instead of just shooting to get it on net,” Torres said.

Torres played junior hockey for Brampton of the Ontario Hockey League. In three seasons there he notched an eye-popping 111 goals.

Both of Torres’ goals on Monday - his fifth and sixth of the season - were impressive because he scored them while being well-covered by Kings defenders.

Head Coach Dave Tippett was impressed.

“I told him we’re going to put him in the shootout but we’re going to make people chase him,” Tippett cracked. “They were both good goals with guys right on him.”

Tippett also said he hopes Torres can keep chipping in offensively.

“He’s a good role player and he recognizes situations that are happening in the game,” Tippett said. “Right now we’re missing some people and he knows we have to depend on everybody to chip in. Obviously he jumped out and had a very good game for us last night.”

• The Coyotes practiced for about 45 minutes at Jobing.com Arena on Tuesday afternoon with a home game against the red-hot Boston Bruins looming on Wednesday night.

Photo by Norn Hall.
Goalie Mike Smith, who has missed the past three games because of a lower-body injury, skated in full gear before the practice officially began and then with teammates for a few minutes before leaving the ice ahead of everyone else.

“Everyday he gets a little better, and when we think he’s ready to jump out there and practice and take shots, he’ll be there,” Tippett said. “Right now we’re still just kind of monitoring him day by day.”

Meanwhile, defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who, like Smith, is on the injured reserve list, skated with teammates for the full practice and likely will be “a player for selection” on Wednesday, according to Tippett. In other words, Aucoin will be a game-time decision. Aucoin hasn’t played since suffering a lower-body injury vs. the New York Rangers on Dec. 17.

Centers Martin Hanzal and Boyd Gordon, who missed Monday’s game vs. LA because of upper- and lower-body injuries, respectively, did not practice on Tuesday, and Tippett said neither likely would play vs. Boston, which has won six games in a row.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson
• Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is evolving from a fresh-faced young player into a seasoned veteran right before our eyes. As a result he’s playing more minutes, and he’s becoming more physically engaged in the game and standing up for himself and teammates more during play and after the whistle.

Tippett likes what he's seeing from the young Swede.

“When you compete hard you make (opponents) mad and that’s what he’s doing,” Tippett said. “He jumps out there and he takes time and space away and he frustrates people by how well he’s playing. When you get into confrontations on the ice it usually means that you’re doing something to bother somebody. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: Contact Dave Vest at thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.
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