‘Yotes Notes: Christian Dvorak assigned to Tucson of AHL
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Just as San Jose’s practice was ending on Monday afternoon at Gila River Arena, Coyotes center Christian Dvorak walked past reporters with his equipment bag and a half dozen sticks. The Coyotes announced an hour later that he had been assigned to Tucson of the AHL.
Dvorak’s assignment likely won’t be a long one. The team expects to use its AHL affiliate to keep younger players who are AHL eligible in game shape by shuttling them back and forth when they are not in he NHL lineup.
Dvorak’s assignment likely means Dylan Strome will get a long look over the next few games as the Coyotes decide whether to return him to juniors or keep him with the NHL club. Strome has played three games and can play six more, per the CHL-NHL agreement, before the Coyotes must burn the first year of his entry-level NHL contract.
With Dvorak’s assignment, the Coyotes’ roster stands at 22 players. The team did not announce a corresponding roster move to get back to 23. The Coyotes could be waiting to see if defenseman Michael Stone is ready to return to the lineup before deciding.
Stone began practice with the team on Monday but departed early, leaving his availability for Tuesday’s game against San Jose up in the air.
“We’ll see where it is tomorrow morning,” coach Dave Tippett said. “He was a little better today. It’s nothing serious, I don’t think.”
Stone was injured late in the Coyotes’ 5-4 win in Philadelphia on Thursday and left the game with an upper-body injury. He has missed four of the team’s eight games this season — the first three while he was still rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee.
In seven NHL games, Dvorak has three assists.
Goalie Mike Smith was on the ice before practice on Monday, marking the first time he has skated since suffering a left leg injury on the first game of the team’s recent road trip in Ottawa. There is no change in his week-to-week status.
“He didn’t have pads or any (equipment) on, just skating, Tippett said. “I haven’t talked to them (about) how he came out of it but he looked fine out there.”
Smith has missed the last six games after missing three months for surgery and rehab on a core muscle.
SPECIAL TEAMS STRUGGLES
Entering Monday’s action, the Coyotes power play unit was tied for 28th in the 30-team NHL at 10.7 percent while the penalty-killing unit was 27th at 72.4 percent.
“We’ve missed some coverages in front on our PK,” Tippett said. “I don’t mind the structure of what we’re doing. There’s a few corrections that we could continue to make but in the end you need some saves there, too.
“With the power play, we talked about it the other day. Our breakout and some of those things have been pretty good. It’s a matter of finding opportunities in the offensive zone. We just haven’t generated enough there so we’ll continue to work away on that.”
Max Domi and Anthony Duclair still have not scored a goal this season and this is having an impact on the power play. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski and Shane Doan lead the team with two power-play points apiece.
GOLIGOSKI STILL ADJUSTING
Goligoski has four assists this season but is a minus-eight through eight games as he adjusts to a new team and new personnel.
“I thought his best game he played for us was Philadelphia,” Tippett said of Thursday’s game. “He really competed hard, but every player has got a transition to face. We talked about that at the start with (Jamie) McGinn, (Luke) Schenn, (Ryan) White, all the new players, they’re coming in and trying to feel things out a little bit.
“We need our whole group of D to move the puck a little better. That’s one of his strengths. Oliver continues to find good plays out of our end but we need some more guys doing that.”
— The Coyotes signed defenseman Kyle Capobianco to a three-year, entry-level contract on Monday. Capobianco was a Coyotes’ third-round pick (63rd overall) in 2015.
— Former Coyotes Mikkel Boedker will make his first appearance at Gila River Arena since the Coyotes sent him to Colorado at last year’s trade deadline. Boedker signed a four-year $16 million deal with San Jose as a free agent in the offseason. He has one goal in nine games.
Sharks at Coyotes
When: 7 p.m., Tuesday
Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale
Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM
Records: Coyotes 2-6. Sharks 6-3.
Injury report: Coyotes — G Mike Smith (left leg) is week to week. D Michael Stone (upper body) is day to day. Sharks — F Joel ward (head) is day to day.
Scouting the Sharks: San Jose has won three in a row, including a 4-1 victory over Nashville on Saturday. … Joe Pavelski leads San Jose with 11 points (four goals), which is tied for third in the NHL. D Brent Burns is in a three-way league tie for most points by a defenseman with 10 (three goals). … Martin Jones (2.00 GAA, .913 SP) will start in goal.