ARIZONA COYOTES

Tocchet: Injuries disrupting Arizona Coyotes’ continuity

Jan 2, 2019, 4:50 PM
Arizona Coyotes' Nick Schmaltz (8) is defended by Los Angeles Kings' Alec Martinez during the first...
Arizona Coyotes' Nick Schmaltz (8) is defended by Los Angeles Kings' Alec Martinez during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

It’s been difficult for the Arizona Coyotes to find consistency this season.

Between their streakiness on the ice and fluid ownership situation off it, the Coyotes have struggled to find traction in a season that began with promise for the first time in years.

An even bigger disruption has been the injury bug, which has repeatedly maligned Arizona in the first three months of the season.

Seven Coyotes players have missed at least 10 games this season due to injury, an issue that coach Rick Tocchet told Burns and Gambo has frustrated him.

“It’s hard to find continuity [because of the injuries],” Tocchet said Wednesday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “It’s almost like every game, you come in and you’re told you’re not going to have this guy and it’s tough.”

Injuries have been a concern for the Coyotes since the season started.

Forward Christian Dvorak won’t play a game this season because of a pectoral muscle tear he suffered in October while rehabbing a lower body injury.

Starting goalie Antti Raanta has played in just 12 games this season and likely won’t play again this season because of a lower body injury. Raanta’s backup, Darcy Kuemper, has also spent time on the injured reserve.

Defenseman Jason Demers is also out for the season with a lower body injury and played in just 18 games.

“The hard part is you’re playing guys out of position,” Tocchet said. “Sometimes you have a fourth-line guy you’ve got up on the second line and they’re only used to playing 11 or 12 minutes per game.”

Forward Michael Grabner (eye) should return soon while others, like defenseman Jakob Chychrun and forward Vinnie Hinostroza, have returned from long-term injury.

Even minor injuries have started to peeve the Coyotes, though.

Forward Brad Richardson has missed the past three games with the flu and forward Nick Schmaltz, who has 14 points in 17 games with the Coyotes since his acquisition, will miss Wednesday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers with a lower body injury.

Tocchet hopes his team continues to fight the battle of attrition and will be better suited for the stretch run if the injury bug subsides.

“Hopefully it’ll be better in the long run,” Tocchet said of his team’s injury concerns. “Hopefully we’re battle-tested when we get people back in the lineup and we’re just trying to grind out wins.”

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