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.
“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 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.
“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.