Tonight will mark the first game action that Arizona Coyotes’ right-wing Michael Grabner will encounter after a nasty eye injury he suffered way back on Dec. 1, 2018.
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) March 7, 2019
Arizona Coyotes Are Slowly Getting Healthy
Adding another forward to the Arizona Coyotes’ arsenal can only lead to good results. After seeing defenceman Jason Demers return last Tuesday night, having Grabner back is good news.
Arizona Coyotes Are so Healthy Now They Will Sit Forward Conor Garland Tonight
Grabner added to the starting lineup means someone needs to sit, according to @craigsmorgan.
Looks like Conor Garland (1 G, 1Pt in past 12 games) will be out of the lineup tonight w/Michael Grabner returning. Jordan Oesterle should also be back for Kevin Connauton. Coyotes need something from Clayton Keller. In 27 games in 2019, he has 4 Gs, 12 Pts; 1 G in past 18 games.
— Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) March 8, 2019
Michael Grabner’s Injury Could Have Been Career-ending
During the initial period of the Coyotes’ contest against the St. Louis Blues, Grabner was struck by an accidental high stick on follow-through from Sammy Blais. It was bad enough to knock the 31-year-old Grabner out for the remainder of the game with an “upper-body injury.”
Whenever any athlete has as severe eye injury as Grabner endured they feel blessed to have recovered from it enough to play once again.
Grabner’s Statistics Will be a Welcome Sight
Grabner, who has started in the offensive zone just 33.3% of the time this season, has four short-handed goals for the Coyotes and has decent possession numbers – with a 49.6% Corsi rating despite regularly being lined up in the defensive zone.
The Arizona Coyotes’ penalty-kill will certainly get a shot in the arm as Grabner will most likely be lining up with Brad Richardson who himself has collected three short-handed goals.
Another factor to the Coyotes’ advantage will be Grabner’s excellent speed.
Playoffs Clearly in Sight
As the Coyotes continue to get healthy they only hope that means their playoff chances will continue to increase. After winning six straight games, including four at home the Arizona club faltered against the resurging Anaheim Ducks who had won two of three of late.
With just 16 games remaining, the Coyotes have not received much assistance from teams around them battling for the same playoff aspirations. They trail the last wild-card team Minnesota Wild (72 points) by three points.
The Vancouver Canucks, and Edmonton Oilers both have 65 points, while the Colorado Avalanche come in at 70 points. This Western Conference playoff race will more than likely come down to the last week of the season and give each competing head coach additional gray hairs.
The Schedule Ahead
The Coyotes have eight home and eight road games remaining and face the Pacific Division-leading Calgary Flames tonight in Arizona. The goalie matchup will be Darcy Keumper against the Flames’ Mike Smith.
The Coyotes then face their arch-rival Los Angeles Kings who would like nothing better than to help ruin the Desert Dogs chance to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
Michael Grabner’s speed and penalty killing skills will absolutely assist the Coyotes in their hunt to be playing in the postseason
All of Michael’s teammates, fans, and family are very grateful that his eye injury wasn’t as serious as it could have been.
Seeing #40 out there on the ice tonight will perhaps fire up the team as their last performance fell way short of head coach Rich Tocchet‘s expectations.
“We’re not going to win them all,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “We like what’s been going on around here, but we didn’t get anything from some guys we need to start to play. If we’re going to go anywhere, we need these guys to go … I’ve got to figure out a way to get some guys going. That’s number one on my list.”