Arizona Coyotes first-line centreman Derek Stepan has practiced with the team on their current East coast road trip. That’s good and unexpected news for the Coyotes who had expected him to miss four-to-six weeks from a lower-body injury.
Derek Stepan Could See Action This Weekend
Adding Stepan at This Time of the Season is Vital
Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said C Derek Stepan is “very very close” to returning to the lineup. We could see him this weekend against New Jersey or the New York islanders.
— Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) March 20, 2019
The Arizona Coyotes could really use the services of veteran assistant captain Derek Stepan and it appears that he may be back in the lineup soon. In 64 games this season Stepan has 13 goals, 32 assists. His Corsi for % at even strength is 50.4.
When he went down in the Vancouver Canucks‘ game it didn’t look good. Then, it was confirmed that he would be out of action for four-to-six weeks. That meant that he would not be back until near the very end of the season and maybe for the playoffs… if the Coyotes made it.
Well, they’ve managed to obtain a 6-3-1 record for the 10 games he has missed due to injury. They are currently on a huge road trip where they will play the Florida Panthers tomorrow night, then the New Jersey Devils Saturday night and the New York Islanders in a Sunday matinee.
What This Means Going Forward
With the recent return of both Michael Grabner and Jason Demers, the Arizona Coyotes can have more of a complete lineup going into the end of the season and hopefully the playoffs. In addition, all three of these returning injured players are veterans. This is a young team and they need the leadership provided by veteran players.
For once head coach Rick Tocchet may have the luxury of arranging lines as he sees fit instead of filling the gaps caused by injuries.
Even after a courageous loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night, Tocchet was proud of his player’s effort.“That’s probably the most proud I’ve been of the team all year. I thought we were very good tonight … You’re playing a number one (team) and I thought we handled ourselves really well. Guys played hard. They stuck to the system.”