There are checking lines, and there are Czech-ing lines — and on Thursday, the Coyotes will unveil the latter when they take on the Panthers at Jobing.com.
Martin Erat, acquired at the trade deadline from Washington, will play on a line with fellow Czechs Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata, marking the first time the three have played together this season.
“Let’s get the line out there,” Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett said, per the Arizona Republic. “Let’s see how they work out there.
“Obviously, they understand each other and understand how they play.”
Though Erat has been with the Coyotes for two weeks, the Czech line’s debut was stalled due to an injury to Hanzal, who missed seven games before returning for Monday’s win over the Kings. Erat also missed time with a head injury but, with the trio now healthy, the Coyotes will look to take advantage of the chemistry developed through years of participation with the Czech national team.
The three all suited up for the Czechs at the 2008 World Hockey Championships, and combined to score 16 points in seven games.
“You can see that we can find each other in the offensive zone, tight corners, that we get open for each other and we’re able to make those passes,” Vrbata said. “It’s nice to see.”
Tonight’s game is huge for the Coyotes, though most of their remaining contests are. Phoenix currently holds the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but is just two points up on Dallas and three up on Vancouver.
The Canucks are idle tonight after beating Nashville on Wednesday, while the Stars are in action this evening against the streaking Flyers, who have won three straight.