GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Coyotes could have their full complement of players back in the lineup by the time they start the month of November. Whether they’ll have that full cast for the final game of October is still in question.
Centers Antoine Vermette, Martin Hanzal and defenseman Connor Murphy all skated on Thursday after missing Tuesday’s game in Boston with lower-body injuries. Hanzal left the ice early on Thursday, however, and will join Vermette in re-evaluating his status at the morning skate before Friday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks at Gila River Arena.
“The factor with us is we’ve got five more days after this (game) off so we’ll play that by ear,” coach Dave Tippett said. “Neither one, we’re going to put into trouble if we think there’s a possibility of injuring things further but if they can play they’ll play and that would certainly help.”
The only one of the trio who is a sure bet to play on Friday is Murphy, who wasn’t limited at Thursday’s practice.
“Good to go,” he said. “It was just a minor lower-body injury from the game (Monday) in Toronto. I was able to play through it in the game but it was tough in the back-to-backs. It was really a precautionary thing to hold me out.”
Vermette missed the final three games of the trip with an injury he confirmed he first sustained on Oct. 15 against Minnesota when he left the game in the second period. The absence ended his iron-man streak at 482 games, which had been the NHL’s second-longest streak and began on March 7, 2009 in Detroit in his debut with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“It’s hard to not be participating in any way, streak or not,” Vermette said. “That being said, you want to be smart about things and respect how your body is (feeling) and the position you can put your teammates in as well.”
Vermette said working out in the training room while his team took the ice was a little strange.
“I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I was lost all day.”
Vermette hasn’t registered a point this season, but he has only been healthy for three games.
“I’ve been around long enough so I’m not really stressing that out,” he said. “Obviously, you want to put up points and participate offensively but there are lot of areas; you can contribute in different ways.”
After the Vancouver game, Arizona does not play again until Nov. 5 when it hosts the Colorado Avalanche. The long break will give any remaining bumps and bruises time to heal, and it will allow Tippett and his staff a chance to evaluate what the team has achieved thus far and where it has fallen short.
Tippett traditionally breaks the schedule down into 10-game segments. The Coyotes reached the 10-game mark on a low note with Tuesday’s 6-0 loss in Boston, but that came at the end of a five-game trip and was the team’s third game in four nights, flying across an international border which required clearing customs.
The Coyotes played seven of their first 10 games on the road and three sets of back-to-backs.
“I thought we’d be 10-0,” Tippett quipped before turning serious. “I like our record (5-4-1) with the schedule we’ve had. A couple games on the road really typified how we want to play: play fast and try to be real competitive in all situations.
“We’re still making some mistakes on some outnumbered rushes and rush reads that I’d like to clean up a little bit. Both sides of special teams can clean up a little bit. Lots of areas to work on but some positives.”
Canucks (4-2-4) at Coyotes (5-4-1)
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Where: Gila River Arena
TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus
Radio: ESPN 620 AM
Scouting the Canucks: Vancouver is tied with Los Angeles for first place in the Pacific Division with 12 points. … The Canucks are 3-1 on the road. … Goalie Ryan Miller had a .930 save percentage entering play Friday and has quieted critics who questioned the offseason trade of younger goalie Eddie Lack. … Former Coyote Radim Vrbata has three goals and four points since being reunited with Daniel and Henrik Sedin four games ago. … Key offseason acquisition Brandon Sutter has three goals and seven points while another offseason acquisition, Brandon Prust, has five assists and a plus-3 rating.