Coyotes hope Kyle Turris can find the net often.
That’s because coach Dave Tippett likes to use players both in a role and a defined capacity. After nearly a two-month holdout, Turris was back on the ice for the Coyotes Dec. 1 for a game at Winnipeg. Going forward, he will likely serve in various roles.
With his penchant for speed and being a strong puck-handler, Turris can fit comfortably on the power play, kill penalties, be reliable on the ice for the final minute of a period and move up to skate on the Coyotes’ top lines.
For now, this is about getting his feet wet and, after a considerable layoff, getting back into NHL-playing shape.
Skating on a fourth line in the Winnipeg game, Turris played 11:58 and was credited with four shots on goal in the Coyotes' 1-0 defeat to the Jets. Overall, Turris seemed to pass his first test, and his ice time going forward should increase.
“He was all right, and did some good things,” Tippett said after practice the day after the Winnipeg game. “We believe Kyle makes us a better team and he’ll get more playing time.”
With Raffi Torres at center and Patrick O’Sullivan on the left wing, Turris said he felt comfortable with his linemates, and indicated whatever Tippett has in mind for the future meets his approval.
“For the first game, I felt fine and not nervous,” Turris said. “Right now, I need to get my feet under me. I thought I’d be a little more rusty, but felt fine. I approached this as just another game.”
After signing just before Thanksgiving, it was thought Turris would have a round-trip ticket to Portland, Maine in his possession and play his way back into NHL shape with the AHL Pirates.
Turris reported in solid physical shape, and Phoenix management decided to have Turris skate with the major league team. He was immediately activated at the NHL level.
The time scenario was nearly a week and Turris, who the Coyotes hold high expectations for, was thrust directly into the lineup against the Jets.
Careful that Turris be brought along in small, incremental stages, Tippett started the 22-year-old on the Coyotes’ fourth line. Down 1-0 and attacking, Turris was moved around to take advantage of his speed and puck-handling abilities.
Going forward, that appears to be Tippett’s approach. He looks for players who can adapt to various situations and are able to fulfill different roles.
For now, Turris simply wants to repair back to the drawing board and enhance his skill level.
“It (the Winnipeg game) was a good starting point,” Turris said. “Now, I need to get better in every phase of the game. That means working on faceoffs, shooting, passing, defense, everything.”
Turris found out after the morning skate he was in the lineup against the Jets. For the Coyotes' next game, Dec. 3 against the Flyers at home, it’s likely a decision will be made to dress Turris following the morning skate.
When the Flyers skate into Jobing.com Arena Dec. 3, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov will sport an orange and black sweater.
Having signed with Philadelphia as a free agent in the recent offseason, Bryzgalov returns to the desert, where he tended the Phoenix goal for the past three seasons. For the Coyotes, this is something like, “don’t bother me.”
“We played him before, so it’s a done deal,” said Tippett in reference to the Flyers' 2-1 win at the Wells Fargo Center last month. “I guess the fans will get into it and raise a lot of hoopla. Then again, he may not play against us.”
That’s because the Flyers have a game against the Ducks in Anaheim Dec. 2 and then play in Phoenix the next night. If Bryzgalov goes against the Ducks, expect backup Sergei Bobrovsky (5-2-1, 2.82 GAA in nine games) between the Philly pipes in the desert.
“I really don’t think about that stuff,” said defenseman Keith Yandle, referring to Bryzglaov’s return. “We’re going against a team, and not a goalie. We want to beat Philly and not just Bryzgalov.”
Not the Broad Street Bullies but Still Tough
The Flyers enter the Dec. 2 Anaheim game sixth in the Eastern Conference and five points behind conference-leading Pittsburgh.
Defenseman Chris Pronger is out, pending surgery on his left knee. Yet, the Flyers are slated to have Jaromir Jagr return to the lineup. Jagr is third on the team in scoring, while Claude Giroux (12 goals, 18 assists, 30 points) leads the team in scoring and is third in the league behind Phil Kessel of the Leafs and ex-Flyer Joffrey Lupul, also of Toronto.
“They are still a very strong and dangerous team,” Tippett said. “They expect to have Jagr back, and we know his history in this league. To beat them, we’ll have to come out strong. We let points get away in Winnipeg, and can’t let that happen too often.”
Editor's note: Quotes in this story were obtained by the author after Coyotes practice Dec. 2.