Coyotes return home to face contenders; Chychrun is day-to-day
GLENDALE, Ariz. — After missing the first 16 games of the Coyotes’ season, Jakob Chychrun returned from injured reserve on Tuesday and made his season debut in Detroit.
Two days, later, Chychrun will miss game No. 18 with an upper-body injury. He is considered day-to-day.
“It’s frustrating, I’m sure he’s frustrated. But it’s not a serious thing,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “Things happen. He’s got to stick mentally strong on it, he’ll get back in.”
The Coyotes announced later Thursday that Dakota Mermis was recalled from the Tucson Roadrunners (AHL). Fellow blueliner Alex Goligoski is also day-to-day.
Chychrun’s injury that kept him out previously was a recovery from knee surgery, so this upper-body injury would not be related, nor a re-injury.
In addition to the young defenseman returning to the lineup on Tuesday, the Coyotes also announced a six-year contract extension for Chychrun on Tuesday.
ANOTHER FIVE-GAME HOMESTAND
The Coyotes are back from a road trip and start a five-game homestand on Thursday against the first-place Nashville Predators, who finished with the NHL’s best record last season. This year, they’re 13-4-1 through 18 games, but will be without defenseman P.K. Subban and forward Viktor Arvidsson due to injury. Austin Watson, who has been suspended following a domestic violence charge, is expected to return to the lineup.
“World class team, they’re built to win a Stanley Cup, so this is a good challenge,” Tocchet said. “And it’s their last game [of their road trip], they’re still pros. The last game of a road trip’s always tough, but they have enough players in their lineup that they’ve been in these situations before.”
The Coyotes on this homestand will draw Nashville (13-4-1), Boston (10-6-2), Vegas (8-10-1), Colorado (9-6-3) and Calgary (10-7-1). If there were such a thing as an easy homestand, this probably wouldn’t be it.
“It’s not [that] you’re fearing them, but there is a fear of: You don’t play well, you could lose 6-1 like we did the other night. So I think that is a good thing. It’s a good thing to respect your opponent, but you can’t give them an inch. You’ve got to be in their faces, and you’ve gotta build whatever — whatever’s going to help you motivate you to compete, you’ve got to find it, especially against these top teams.”
Arizona will look to rebound from a 6-1 loss to the Red Wings that ended its recent road trip.
“I just didn’t think we were really competitive which was kind of disappointing,” Tocchet said. “But I think we’ve bounced back after disappointing losses so that’s a good characteristic for every team that you can bounce back after a lackluster effort.”
Darcy Kuemper will get the start again on Thursday as Antti Raanta remains day-to-day and on injured reserve. Hunter Miska is the backup.
Tocchet said Thursday that Raanta is feeling better, and they hope he’ll get in a full practice soon.