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‘Yotes Notes: Antti Raanta to be activated off IR

Arizona Coyotes' Luke Schenn (2) is unable to stop a shot by San Jose Sharks' Mikkel Boedker before getting past goalie Antti Raanta (32) for a goal during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta is expected to come off injured reserve on Thursday, a source told Arizona Sports. With that in mind, the Coyotes made some roster moves on Wednesday.

The team assigned goalie Hunter Miska and defenseman Joel Hanley to Tucson of the American Hockey League, while recalling goalie Louis Domingue in what was simply a paper transaction made for cap purposes.

They also recalled defenseman Dakota Mermis.

The Coyotes acquired Raanta and center Derek Stepan in a draft-day trade with the New York Rangers for defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and the No. 7 overall pick. Raanta was expected to be the No. 1 goalie, but he has only played 90 minutes and one second this season due to a pair of lower-body injuries; the current one a muscle strain.

When Raanta took the ice for practice on Friday in New Jersey, the momentum appeared to be building for a return. Some within the organization thought he might even play Saturday against the Devils, but when the Coyotes boarded a flight on Wednesday after this five-game East Coast swing, he was still out of the lineup with a muscle strain in his lower body.

The Coyotes rank last in the NHL in save percentage at .866 and last in goals against per game at 4.66.

DUCLAIR SITS

Forward Anthony Duclair was a surprise scratch for the final two games of the road trip. Duclair has three goals and five points in 11 games this season and his underlying numbers are favorable, including the sixth-best (tied) relative Corsi rating at even strength on the team at 3.4.

Here’s how Tocchet explained the decision to sit Duclair.

“Duke goes through stretches being very inconsistent sometimes,” Tocchet said. “He’ll look good sometimes and then he’ll go through stretches.”

The Coyotes talked to Duclair this offseason about generating more of his own offense by getting in on the forecheck and forcing turnovers by being hard on the puck.

“We can’t wait for people. We’ve got to find some battlers,” Tocchet said. “I really want to build a team that is real sticky; talented but sticky.

“Duke had a couple good skates. He knows that he’s got to get his legs going a little bit. He has a good attitude, which I like. He had a good workday (Tuesday). We’ll see when we get him back in.”

HJALMARSSON’S IMPACT

Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson missed Tuesday’s game with an upper-body injury suffered in Monday’s win in Philadelphia and is considered day-to-day. While Hjalmarsson, like most of the Coyotes, has been inconsistent this season, his absence was felt in Detroit.

“He’s a 25-minute guy,” Tocchet said. “He’s a good defensive defenseman, blocks shots. That’s a tough one and then obviously people have got to play a little more, but teams go through that. Good teams go through that when some of their good players get hurt.”

In Hjalmarsson’s absence, here’s how the ice time broke down for the other six defensemen.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson: 24:30
Alex Goligoski: 21:52
Jason Demers: 20:43
Adam Clendening: 19:11
Luke Schenn: 18:38
Kevin Connauton: 13:49

Clendening has struggled to find a regular place on the Coyotes’ blue line after signing a one-year, $650,000 contract this summer and playing parts of three NHL seasons with six NHL clubs: Toronto, Chicago, Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Edmonton and the Rangers.

Last season, he logged 15:49 of ice time in 31 games with New York, posting a 56.7 Corsi For percentage at even strength, with 68.3 percent of his zone starts coming in the offensive zone. He had career highs in goals (2), assists (9) and points (11), but he was never able to lock down a regular role. With some maturity, the Coyotes felt he might be ready for more minutes in less protected situations.

In five games this season, Clendening has two assists and is averaging 15:56 of ice time.

SCHEDULE MADNESS

The Coyotes return home for games against Buffalo (Thursday) and Carolina (Saturday) before hitting the road for another East Coast-Midwest swing next week through Washington, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, Nov. 6-9.

They play one game at home against Winnipeg on Nov. 11 and then hit the road again for a Canadian road trip through Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, Nov. 14-20.

They return home for two games against Los Angeles and Vegas, Nov. 24-25, hit the road again for games at Edmonton and Calgary, Nov. 28-30. They return for one home game against New Jersey on Dec. 2 and then play four more road games at Vegas, Boston, Columbus and Chicago, Dec. 3-10.

By Dec. 10, Arizona will have played 33 games, with 21 of those played on the road and 16 of them in either the Eastern or Central time zones.


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