The 82-game NHL season can be long and grueling with teams battling injuries throughout the year. To say that the Coyotes are doing exactly that right now would be an understatement.
Phoenix has avoided long sustaining injuries for the better of the season, but things have changed in recent weeks. Ed Jovanovski is out for the next several weeks after having after orbital bone surgery earlier this week. Adrian Aucoin has missed five straight games with a lower body injury. He skated last night in Columbus and could return tomorrow in Chicago. Ray Whitney missed his third straight game last night with a lower a body injury as well. Like Aucoin, he could return Sunday against the Blackhawks.
The injuries to Jovanovski and Aucoin have really hurt the Coyotes, especially in the last two games. Phoenix’s penalty killing unit has been downright atrocious. They allowed three goals the other night in Tampa Bay and allowed three again last night against the Blue Jackets. From simple math, that is six in two games. With Jovanovski and Aucoin out, David Schlemko and Nolan Yonkman have had to step in. The returns have been mixed so far. Schlemko has scored two goals so far since coming up and Yonkman is a big body and a heavy hitter, but allowing six power play goals in two games are never good results.
All teams in the league have to deal with injuries at some point during the season. The Coyotes have just hit a rough patch at the moment, but Aucoin and Whitney set to return brings some good news. Aucoin will help on the power play unit and Whitney will add some more offensive punch. Jovanovski continuing to be out hurts though. He is the heart and the soul of the defense and certainly will continued to be missed by the blue line.
Lets just hold Phoenix’s defense can hold down the fort until he returns.