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Coyotes coach surprised Oliver Ekman-Larsson didn’t play more in Sochi

LISTEN: Dave Tippett, Phoenix Coyotes Coach

Five Phoenix Coyotes made the trip to Sochi for the Winter Olympics, with differing experiences with regards to what transpired on the ice.

Some played a lot — and played well, while others didn’t play much at all.

While some of that could have been expected, such as the case with goalie Mike Smith, the lack of ice time for Oliver Ekman-Larsson confused Coyotes coach Dave Tippett.

“I guess every team has their own way of doing things and every coach has their own way of doing things, but I’ve seen Oliver play here for three years now and I’m a big believer in him,” the coach told the Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “I am not understanding how he could not be part of their top six defensemen over there, it really baffles me.”

The defenseman won a silver medal with Sweden, but averaged less than 10 minutes of ice time per game, though he did tally three assists and five shots on goal.

For the Coyotes, the 22-year-old OEL has eight goals, 21 assists, 36 PIMs and a plus-3.

“But I talked to him for a while this morning; he’s upbeat, he said, ‘You know, I’ll just treat it as a great experience and get better.’

“And that’s the great thing about Oliver; he wants to be a top player and he’ll take everything and use it as a learning process and I think the other thing, he’s going to use it as motivation to be a better player down the stretch here.”