According to the Arizona Republic, the Phoenix Coyotes won’t have three of their regular forwards on Thursday when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal.
Head coach Dave Tippett confirmed it following today’s morning skate, saying that Lauri Korpikoski and Martin Hanzal would be out for the second straight game. They’ll be joined on the sidelines by Raffi Torres, who is suspended indefinitely for his hit on Marian Hossa.
Most coaches would be scrambling to replace three regular rotation forwards, but not Tippett. He’s shown an inordinate amount of faith in the organization’s depth and has no issue relying on AHL call-ups.
“Our depth throughout our organization is better, and we have players down there that are better equipped to come and play in this situation,” he told Fox Sports Arizona. “In years past, we’ve had some young players that if you put them in a situation like this right now, it would probably be tough on them.”
Coyotes GM Don Maloney agreed.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we can survive and play instead of crossing our fingers, shutting our eyes and hoping we can survive,” he said.
On Tuesday, Phoenix replaced Hanzal and Korpikoski with Kyle Chipchura and Gilbert Brule and the pair played well, though Tippett really limited their minutes (they, along with Paul Bissonnette, combined for just 19:20 of ice time.)
That won’t be easy to do on Thursday now that Torres is out. He played over 20 minutes in the Game 3 victory and was averaging 19 a night, playing on an effective line alongside Daymond Langkow and Shane Doan.
Tippett said that while the personnel losses are big, they won’t affect Phoenix’s overall approach.
“We understand playoffs are a hard grind, and you’re going to use a lot of people,” he said. “But what we always talk about is: When a player goes out, it’s an opportunity for somebody else.
“That’s kind of the identity of our team.”