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Arizona Coyotes

DDB: Torres’ Goals Are No Fluke

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.

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.

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.

• 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.

For information on upcoming Phoenix Coyotes games, please
visit http://coyotes.nhl.com

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