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‘Yotes Notes: Tocchet granted leave of absence, Dauphin out long term

Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet talks to player during a timeout in the third period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, in Denver. The Coyotes won 3-1. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Coyotes announced Monday morning that coach Rick Tocchet has been granted a leave of absence from the team to deal with a family illness. Assistant Coach John MacLean will assume the Coyotes’ head coaching responsibilities until Tocchet returns.

The team did not provide further details out of respect for the family.

“Family comes first,” general manager John Chayka said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Toc as he deals with this personal matter. It’s important that he takes the time to be there with his family.”

MacLean was the New Jersey Devils’ head coach for 33 games during the 2010-11 season.

DAUPHIN OUT A WHILE

Coyotes general manager John Chayka said Monday that injured center Laurent Dauphin will be out “long term.”

Chayka said it is unclear if Dauphin’s injury will put his availability for the upcoming American Hockey League playoffs with the Tucson Roadrunners in jeopardy. The team will release more information on his status when it has it.

Dauphin left Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center in the third period after blocking a shot with his knee. He played just two games with the Coyotes after his recall on March 1.

With Dauphin out, the Coyotes played Sunday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks without an extra forward after re-assigning Dylan Strome to Tucson on Sunday. Chayka said Zac Rinaldo would skate with the team on Tuesday morning before its game against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.

Rinaldo has missed the past six games with an upper-body injury. Assuming he returns, the Coyotes would have one extra forward and one extra defenseman (currently Luke Schenn) on the roster after re-assigning defenseman Andrew Campbell to Tucson on Sunday.

Strome was recalled on an emergency basis because the Coyotes were concerned about Derek Stepan’s status after he blocked a shot Saturday in Denver. But Stepan skated Sunday morning and played against the Vancouver Canucks at Gila River Arena on Sunday.

Had Strome also played Sunday, it would have burned one of the Coyotes’ remaining two AHL recalls.

RIEDER SITS

Former Coyotes forward Tobias Rieder was a healthy scratch for the Kings’ past two games, although he could be in the lineup when the teams meet at Gila River Arena on Tuesday.

The Kings acquired Rieder from the Coyotes along with goalie Scott Wedgewood on Feb. 21 for goalie Darcy Kuemper. Rieder scored in his second game with the Kings, but that is his only point in six games. He has 13 shots on goal and is averaging 12:59 of ice time per game.

“I think he’s most comfortable on the left side,” Kings coach John Stevens told lakingsinsider.com, countering the belief by former Coyotes coach Dave Tippett that Rieder was more effective on the right side. “He’s played a little bit of right, and we’ve asked him to play the right.

“He’s such a good kid and a good team player that he’ll play wherever you want him to, but we want to just make sure that he understands that we think he’s going to help us, and he just needs to make sure when he’s not playing he’s ready to play and stays really sharp so that when he gets the chance to come back and play he can make a difference.”

OEL EQUALS GWG

Game-winning goals are not always a great statistic because of how the NHL awards them. Yet, they often mean something and Oliver Ekman-Larsson has a knack for producing them.

Ekman-Larsson’s goal in a 1-0 win against the Canucks on Sunday was clearly important. It was his 27th game-winning goal since entering the league in 2010-11. No defenseman has scored more game-winners in that span.

“I would rather be battling for playoff spots than scoring goals,” Ekman-Larsson said. “At the same time, it means that I’m doing something good out there. I’ve been getting some good looks lately and it’s nice to see them go in.”

LOOSE PUCKS

— The Coyotes could officially be eliminated from the playoff race during this five-game homestand. Arizona is 25 points behind the Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, and 25 points behind the Anaheim Ducks for third place in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes can earn a maximum of 28 points. The only teams they can mathematically catch for a playoff spot are: Colorado and Anaheim (80 points), San Jose (81) and Dallas (82 points).

— Stepan has five points (one goal, four assists) in his past five games. Clayton Keller has five points (one goal, four assists) in six March games.

— Coyotes goalies have posted three shutouts in the team’s past 10 games. Raanta has two; Kuemper has one.

Kings at Coyotes

When: 7 p.m., Tuesday
Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale
TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus
Radio: ESPN 620 AM
Records: Kings — 37-26-5. Coyotes — 22-35-11.
Season series: Kings lead, 1-0-1.
Injury report: Kings — None. Coyotes — F Zac Rinaldo (upper body) and G Antti Raanta (lower body) are day to day. C Laurent Dauphin (lower body) is out indefinitely.

Kings scouting report: Los Angeles is 6-4 in its past 10 games but is coming off a 7-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. … F Anze Kopitar leads the team with 27 goals and 74 points (tied for 11th in the NHL). He has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in his past seven games. … Entering Monday’s games, the Kings trailed the Colorado Avalanche by one point for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, and the Anaheim Ducks by one point for third place in the Pacific Division.

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