Phoenix Coyotes v Florida Panthers

Mike Smith activated from injured reserve

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Things are moving quickly for Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith today. Not only was Smith activated by the team from injured reserve, but he was immediately put into the lineup to start against the Blues in St. Louis. The Coyotes aren’t exactly easing him back into the fold, are they?

Mike Smith hasn’t played since December 20th when he hurt his groin in the 3rd period of a game against the Florida Panthers. After winning the first game without Smith, the Coyotes have limped to a 1-3-1 record over their last five games. Nothing against Jason LaBarbara or Curtis McElhinney, but the team that is built on strong team defense and solid goaltending could use Smith back between the pipes.

Smith had been one of the good stories of the early season before falling to the injury bug. His strong play behind one of the best defensive systems in the league has helped the Coyotes raise a few eyebrows in the early going. After the mini-slump with Smith out of the lineup, they need to put their foot back on the gas if they want to compete for one of those last playoff spots in the Western Conference.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Goalie nods: Jones makes Sharks debut against ex-Kings mates

Martin Jones
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News and notes from around the crease…

Jones goes for San Jose

Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.

Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.

For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.

Markstrom out for Vancouver

Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.

For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.


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