Radim Vrbata expected to return for Coyotes tonight

For whatever reason, Radim Vrbata just works in Phoenix. He currently leads the Coyotes with 30 goals this season and even drew some dark horse All-Star chatter, so the scrappy team must be delighted to have him back, which Dave Vest reports is quite likely.

Vrbata is one of the Coyotes who’ve been fighting off flu-like symptoms, but with captain Shane Doan out three games because of a suspension, they’ll welcome him back that much more.

The ninth-ranked Coyotes are about an hour away from hosting the seventh place Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, so getting Vrbata back is a huge deal for a team that showed serious resilience in a comeback-heavy road trip.

NHL elbows Shane Doan with a three-game suspension


In a suspension that more or less lives up to expectations, the NHL slapped Phoenix Coyotes captain (and super-nice guy) Shane Doan with a three-game ban. Elbowing Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn will set the long-suffering leader exactly $166,463.40.

Here’s the video explanation, via CSNChicago.com:

Too harsh, too weak or just right? Let us know in the comments.

An odd one: Jeff Skinner suspended two games for … kicking?


In many cases, NHL suspension videos lean toward rule 48 regarding head shots. You don’t see rule 49 come out of the woodwork very often – in fact, I can’t recall it off the top of my head, unless Chris Pronger’s infamous “stomp” falls under that category – but we got an example tonight. The league handed Jeff Skinner a two-game suspension for “kicking” St. Louis Blues forward Scott Nichol.

Here’s the video:

Skinner will be $9,729.72 poorer because of the game checks he’s losing, although the damage would have been greater if he had a prior history. It’s been an odd season for the reigning Calder Trophy winner, as he’s shown the skill to prove that wasn’t a fluke yet he’s dealt with concussion issues that marred a chunk of his sophomore year.

Obviously this is is an unusual situation, so PHT is intrigued to get your take. Should he have gotten more games, no punishment at all or was it just right? Do tell.

Suspension won’t change the way Mike Green plays


It’s natural to wonder if a player will change his ways in the wake of the embarrassment and financial loss that comes with a suspension. When asked if a three-game suspension would alter his approach, Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green told the Washington Post’s Tarik El-Bashir that it wouldn’t be the case.

“It was an accident,” Green said. “I’m not going to change the way that I play. I didn’t feel like I did anything vicious or anything like that.”

But “you just got to be careful; you don’t want to put anyone in danger,” he added. “Maybe I’ll hold up a little bit, but I’ll definitely always finish my check, body-to-body.”

El-Bashir brought up an area of Green’s game that does need to change – and a real eye-opener in that. You might have been aware that Green hasn’t been the double-edged sword of a force this season, but chew on this: he hasn’t registered a single point under Dale Hunter.

Green explained it away as a stylistic change and somewhat stunningly seemed happy about a simpler game plan that means less offense. (Or at least he made such a point on the record.)

“It’s a lot easier, simpler game to play under Dale, which is a good thing,” Green said. “In the past, I was expected to get up in the play and score and make plays and be back. It was a lot of work. I still feel like could do that. But my role has changed here. And that’s fine with me.”

It’s hard for me to believe that Green – a pending restricted free agent* with a lot of money to gain or lose in the coming months – is really gushing over his altered role.

As much as people beat up on him for his defensive lapses (fair or not), the guy has displayed rare scoring skills for a blueliner and is still deep in what should be his prime years at 26. Washington is in a good position to make the playoffs – and maybe even with their division – right now, but a rejuvenated Green sure would do a lot to make them a scarier playoff opponent.

* – CapGeek lists him as a restricted free agent. It’s an interesting situation because Green will turn 27 on Oct. 12, which would likely fall just a few days after the 2012-13 season starts.

Tyler Myers will sit three games for boarding


The Buffalo Sabres are charging their way up the Eastern Conference ranks, but they’ll need to continue that push without near-Chara-sized defenseman Tyler Myers. The young blueliner will sit out three contests for this boarding check on Montreal Canadiens forward Scott Gomez from Monday:

Myers won’t be available for tomorrow’s contest against the Colorado Avalanche (which will air on NBC Sports Network), Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers and Monday’s match versus the Tampa Bay Lightning. He’ll also be $14,189.19 poorer due to the lost funds from a suspension, which would have been significantly higher if he had a prior history of suspensions.

How do you feel about the punishment? Was it too light, too harsh or just right?