Desert Dog Blog: A look at the week ahead
GLENDALE – Happy Monday. Here’s a look at the week ahead for the red-hot Coyotes:
Phoenix will try to extend its winning streak to a season-high eight games on Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center. It will be a challenge; the Flyers are the best team in the Eastern Conference with 83 points and have won 19 of their first 29 home games this season.
Coyotes winger Scottie Upshall is eager to play the game because it will be his first game in Philadelphia since the Flyers traded him to Phoenix for forward Daniel Carcillo and a second-round draft pick on March 4, 2009. Upshall, who is leading the Coyotes with 16 goals, played 134 games for the Flyers before the trade and was a fan favorite there.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Upshall said after Monday’s practice in Philadelphia. “I got to skate today at the rink, which was fun being back in a place where I have so many hockey memories.”
Upshall played 17 NHL playoff games for the Flyers and remembers the environment well.
“It’s a great place and a great hockey city in general,” Upshall said. “The fans here really support their team and the rink is a very passionate place to play. The culture here is something that you don’t forget. I am excited to be back, and it’s going to be a big test for us to play these guys. They’re playing good hockey.”
On Wednesday, the Coyotes will play at the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 team with 75 points.
It will be a big night for captain Shane Doan, who will take ownership of the franchise’s games played record with 1,099. Doan’s good friend/mentor Teppo Numminen played 1,098 games for the Jets/Coyotes from 1988-2003.
Doan, who was drafted by Winnipeg with the seventh overall pick in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, ranks fourth among active players in most games played with one team. Doan trails only Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom (1,470), Detroit’s Kris Draper (1,120) and New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur (1,114).
After a day off on Thursday, the Coyotes will continue their road trip with a game at Columbus on Friday. Phoenix has won six games in a row at Nationwide Arena and has outscored the Blue Jackets 22-11 in those games.
The Coyotes will conclude this lengthy trip on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.
In other news…
• With three games coming in four nights this week, backup goalie Jason LaBarbera is expected to start a game. LaBarbera last played on Feb. 2 (he logged 8:13 of ice time in relief of Ilya Bryzgalov in a 6-0 loss to Vancouver), and last started a game on Jan. 10.
• The playing status of winger Ray Whitney, who suffered a lower-body injury in Saturday’s 4-3 win at Nashville on Saturday and who did not practice on Monday, will be updated on Tuesday.
• I’m told both center Kyle Turris and defenseman David Schlemko will rejoin the Coyotes from the American Hockey League this week, perhaps as early as Tuesday.