‘Yotes Notes: Richardson ready to go, Martinook, Demers day to-day
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Center Brad Richardson practiced for a second straight day and is ready to play Thursday against the Dallas Stars at Gila River Arena.
Richardson left a game against Columbus on Jan 25. in the first period with an upper-body injury. On Tuesday, coach Rick Tocchet termed him week-to-week, but Richardson skated Tuesday to the surprise of everyone.
“I thought it was a lot more serious than it was and it turned out not to be,” Richardson said Wednesday. “It was just kind of a weird situation where I felt OK but got it checked out and it looked serious and then it wasn’t.”
Richardson was visibly relieved. He played just 16 games last season before sustaining a broken right tibia and fibula in a game at Vancouver on Nov. 17, 2017.
“Obviously with last year, I wouldn’t have been too thrilled with another big injury,” he said. “I was happy to get it all figured out over the All-Star break where I could see a few people. I didn’t miss a game. I’m back on the ice. I feel fine.”
Defenseman Jason Demers has not practiced this week. He left the Blue Jackets game in the third period with an upper-body injury. The Coyotes placed him on injured reserve on Wednesday, retroactive to the Columbus game. He is eligible to come off any day, but Tocchet termed him “very doubtful” for the Stars’ game.
The Coyotes recalled Kyle Capobianco from Tucson of the American Hockey League to take his roster spot.
Forward Jordan Martinook also missed practice Wednesday with an upper-body injury Tocchet said just came up on Tuesday afternoon. Tocchet did not know if the injury occurred on a play in Tuesday’s practice in which Martinook crashed hard into the end boards (more on that below). Tocchet termed him day-to-day and was not sure about his availability for Thursday.
TRADE DEADLINE TALK
General manager John Chayka reiterated a consistent stance when asked what the Coyotes would do at the Feb. 26 NHL Trade Deadline. He doesn’t expect any major moves.
“I’ve had numerous discussions on a lot of different players,” he said. “If there’s a chance to make our team better I’ll do it, but in the past there was a lot of need for guys to get a fresh start or to infuse youth. There were some underlying changes we were trying to make. I don’t think that’s the case any longer.
“I think the core players are in place and they need some time and some experience surrounded by the right players. We’ve got some pieces in place that we like. Now, we’re just seeing if there are some things we can tweak to try and improve. There is nothing underlying that I think needs a significant change.”
SCHWAB SETTLING IN
Corey Schwab and Jon Elkin switched places in the organization in December, with Schwab becoming the Coyotes goaltending coach and Elkin becoming the prospect goaltending coach, focusing on the Tucson Roadrunners.
“For me, the transition has been good and gone smooth,” said Schwab, who was previously part of the goaltending coaching staff with Tampa Bay and San Jose. “When I was with San Jose I was able to be with the NHL team a week a month throughout season the last four years I was there so I’m familiar with how it works as far as the coaching staff and from my experience playing, I know how everything works with the routine of players.”
He admits that the switch could have been disruptive for goalies Antti Raanta and Scott Wedgewood, who are each on their third goalie coach in the past year, but Schwab said he didn’t set out to make major changes in either player’s game.
“It’s not like there’s a deficiency in his game,” Schwab said, addressing Raanta. “It’s just about what they’re feeling, and when you get to know a guy you get a better feel for them. They become more open as to what they’re feeling in a game and what they want to work on.
“These guys are NHL goalies. They’re at the top level but they’re human where they go through certain things where they’re confident in one thing and not in another so it’s about clearing the mind and getting the mindset to feel good and just go out and play.”
Late in Tuesday’s practice, forward Martinook took a long feed from Richardson and went in alone on goalie Antti Raanta. Raanta was slightly out of position, but before Martinook could corral the pass that was just out of his reach to get off a quality attempt, he crashed to the ice, slammed into the end boards and lay on his back with all four limbs extended as if dead. Except he was laughing.
When a reporter asked of he had been felled by a sniper hidden in the Gila River Arena rafters, Martinook pointed the finger at Raanta.
“He tripped me,” Martinook said with mock anger.
Raanta would not cop to the foul, and Martinook got no support from Richardson or coach Rick Tocchet.
“Probably a sniper,” Tocchet said. “Grassy knoll.”
Martinook was displeased by the lack of support, mainly from his goaltender.
“He’s pretending to be a nice guy but he’s a mean Finn,” Martinook said.
The Coyotes claimed forward Freddie Hamilton off waivers from Calgary on Jan. 4. He has yet to play a game, sitting out as a healthy scratch in all nine games since he was claimed. He does not figure to play Thursday against Dallas.
“It’s hard to get him in there,” Tocchet said. “We have some chemistry with some lines and I don’t want to disrupt a lot of things because we are playing well. It’s a tough position so whoever doesn’t play has to suck it and keep working because you’re going to need everybody at one time.”
Tocchet said Hamilton has handled the situation well.
“He’s been terrific,” Tocchet said. “He comes and puts his skates on and works hard. He’s been a pleasure to work with.”
Stars at Coyotes
When: 7 p.m., Thursday
Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale
TV: FOX Sports Arizona
Radio: ESPN 620 AM
Records: Stars — 28-19-4. Coyotes — 12-29-9.
Injury report: Stars — D Marc Methot (knee) is out indefinitely. C Martin Hanzal (lower body) did not practice Wednesday and is day-to-day. F Antoine Roussel (nasal infection) is day-to-day but practiced Wednesday and could play. D Dan Hamhuis (ill) missed Wednesday’s practice but should play. Coyotes — D Jason Demers (IR, upper body) and F Jordan Martinook (upper body) are day-to-day.
Stars scouting report: Dallas has lost two straight games but is 6-3-1 in its past 10. … F Alex Radulov and D John Klingberg are tied for the team lead in points at 48. C Tyler Seguin leads the team with 23 goals. … Hamhuis played his 1,000th game on Tuesday against Los Angeles.