The Phoenix Coyotes (8-6-2) are heading north of the border for a three-game road trip starting in Edmonton before making stops in Calgary and Vancouver.
Having fared well against western Canadian teams last season, going 12-4, the ‘Yotes are looking to repeat their success this time around. Head coach Dave Tippett said spirits are high every time his team makes the trip up north.
“I know players are excited to play; there are a lot of players that grew up in western Canada so they’re excited to get back there,” he said. “There’s always an excitement about playing in Canada and that probably brings out the best in players. ”
Tippett is looking forward to getting a key player, Matthew Lombardi, back in his lineup Saturday. Lombardi has been out since Jan. 24 against the Sharks when he suffered a shoulder injury.
“He’s a guy who plays with speed; he can distribute the puck out of the middle. When he left here he was a real good player for us so if we can get him back up and going in that direction we think we can have a real good asset,” he said. “He’s anxious to get playing again, it’s unfortunate he got hurt and missed the time he has but he’s anxious to get going and I think we’ll be seeing him tomorrow.”
The coach added that his team is also expecting forward Radim Vrbata, who has been kept out of action because of a lower body injury, along with Lombardi to re-join the club while in Canada.
“Vrbata looks like he’s going to be fine coming out of practice today so those two guys back in the lineup will be good for us,” he said.
Defenseman Derek Morris is also expected to return sometime during the road trip after recovering from an upper body injury, but exactly when that will be remains a question.
“He’s coming on this trip, he’s day-to-day, there’s a chance he’ll play on this trip,” Tippett said. “I don’t think he’ll play tomorrow but there’s a chance he’ll play on the trip.”
The team is taking Michael Stone to fill in on defense until Morris’ return.
“With back to back games we’ve got to get somebody in there,” the coach said. “We recalled Stone just as a security.”