GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Coyotes will get a couple key pieces back in the lineup on Wednesday when they host the Anaheim Ducks at Gila River Arena.
Goaltender Mike Smith and defenseman Nicklas Grossmann made it through a full practice on Tuesday (Grossmann’s second straight). While coach Dave Tippett said they would be re-evaluated at the optional morning skate on Wednesday, the Coyotes reassigned goaltender Louis Domingue and defenseman Philip Samuelsson to Springfield of the American Hockey league on Tuesday afternoon, signaling that both Smith and Grossmann are ready to return to the lineup.
“Coming out of practice it seemed all good,” Tippett said.
Smith offered a little more insight when asked if he was ready to play.
“I’m available,” he said. “Better than I was for sure. Two good days of practice.”
Smith confirmed that he tweaked a lower-body injury (believed to be in his lower abdomen) late in the second period against Montreal, but he has been dealing with the issue for a while. With only the Ottawa game between the time of the injury and Wednesday’s game against Anaheim, he opted to rest and let it heal.
“The rest obviously helped,” he said.
Grossmann was simply waiting for the green light from others.
“I feel pretty good right now but it’s up to doctors and coaches and pretty much everybody else except me right now,” he said.
Grossmann has missed the last seven games since leaving a Nov. 7 game against the New York Rangers with a lower-body injury that he figured would take some time.
“Right away I knew,” he said. “That’s the one good thing about being older. You’ve kind of been through a lot and kind of know what to expect out of it, but that kind of helped me a little bit with how to approach it and how to prepare.”
The Coyotes will wear their black Kachina original jerseys that the team wore from 1996-2003 on Nov. 27 when they host the Calgary Flames at Gila River Arena. This will be the second time the Coyotes will wear a throwback jersey in an NHL game after the team’s first throwback night on March 5, 2015 vs. Vancouver.
Smith practiced Tuesday in the same, predominantly black mask and black leg pads he wore last year on Throwback Night. He likes the look.
“I do,” he said. “It’s kind of mean. I love the jerseys and the whole retro look.”
The Coyotes Den will have a limited number of Kachina Coyotes jerseys available for fans as well as other items with the team’s original logo for sale.
BYE WEEK COMING
The NHL will include a five-day bye week next season as part of the negotiation with the NHL Players’ Association to sign off on the recent All-Star format changes, ESPN reported late last week. The bye week dates will vary by team, but all will fall between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28, 2016
That’s music to the players’ ears.
“The season’s a grind as you know with all the games and travel,” center Antoine Vermette said. “In the big picture, I think it’s a good thing. You’ll have some guys who maybe tweaked some things here and there get a chance to take care of themselves a little better and hopefully that will translate into more games played.”
It’s uncertain how the bye will impact the schedules, but the thinking among the players is that games will just be distributed more evenly and there won’t be the addition of more back-to-back games.
“From the conversations that I have had, there’s already days built into the schedule,” said defenseman Michael Stone, who is the Coyotes’ player rep. “We had five days after training camp where we didn’t play a game. We have four or five off in December where we won’t play so just disperse the schedule a little better. From what I understand, that’s what they’re looking at.
“As far as more back-to-backs, I don’t think we would have pushed for what we’re getting if that was the case.”
Ducks at Coyotes
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Gila River Arena
TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus
Radio: ESPN 620 AM
Injury report: Ducks — Fs Nate Thompson (shoulder), Jiri Sekac (sprained ankle) and D Simon Despres (concussion) are out. G Frederik Andersen (flu) is day to day. D Hampus Lindholm (upper body) returned to the lineup Tuesday.
Scouting the Ducks: Anaheim is just 2-3-2 since Arizona snapped its four-game winning streak on Nov. 9. … The Ducks just completed a four-game road trip, came home for one game against Calgary on Tuesday, and then headed out to Arizona. … F Corey Perry leads the team with five goals and 12 points. C Ryan Getzlaf has just one goal this season.
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