GLENDALE — With back-to-back games vs. San Jose looming on Friday and Saturday nights, the Coyotes on Thursday assembled for their final practice of the regular season.
After a team meeting, about half of the players took the ice at the Ice Den in Scottsdale for drills while the other half worked out in the weight room and/or received treatments.
Center Martin Hanzal, who has missed the past 13 games because of a lower-body injury, was among the players who skated. After practice, Head Coach Dave Tippett told reporters: “He’s close. He’ll be a game-time decision (on Friday).”
• Tippett said he was impressed by how defenseman Ed Jovanovski performed on Wednesday night vs. LA in his first game since Feb. 17.
“Jovo was excellent,” Tippett said. “I thought he skated very well, his puck play was real strong and he was one of the real positives coming out of last night.”
• After practice, Center Andy Miele headed to the airport for a trip to St. Paul, Minn., where he will attend the Hobey Baker Award ceremony on Friday night. Miele, who notched 71 points in 39 games for Miami University as a senior, is one of three finalists for the award.
“Without my teammates and the coaching staff giving me opportunities to succeed I wouldn’t be in this position,” said Miele, who will rejoin the Coyotes in San Jose on Saturday. “My linemates were unbelievable. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to them (and) everyone starting with the goaltenders and all the way out to the forwards. It was a group process and without them I wouldn’t be in this position.”
• On the topic of NCAA hockey, center Andrew Ebbett was proudly wearing a University of Michigan T-shirt after Thursday’s practice. Michigan is playing the University of North Dakota – aka Tippett’s alma mater – in a Frozen Four semifinal on Thursday night. Both Tippett and Ebbett list playing in the Frozen Four on their resumes, and both, not surprisingly, were predicting victories for their alma maters on Thursday.
Ebbett on the matchup: “It’s going to be a tough match…but Michigan always finds a way to be there in those tight games, so I’m thinking ‘Go Blue’ all the way.”
Tippett on Ebbett’s prediction: “He’s going to be sour tomorrow.”
• Just a crazy thought here, but if the hockey gods see fit and pair the Coyotes against San Jose in the first round of the playoffs, there’s a chance the Coyotes and Sharks could play nine consecutive games against each other if the playoff series were to last a full seven games. Just sayin’.