The idea of a quick start has disappeared in the rearview mirror. Now, the Coyotes’ goal is one of lesser expectations: avoid getting buried early in what could be the NHL’s toughest division.
So, the next two games, both at home — tonight vs. Los Angeles and Saturday vs. Dallas are virtual “must wins,” said defenseman Ed Jovanovski, because they are both within the Coyotes' tough Pacific Division.
Recalling his past, Jovanovski said, “Playing in Vancouver, I always thought the Northwest Division was the best. But this is right up there.”
Anaheim is thought to be a title contender, while last year San Jose made the conference semifinals, and Dallas won the division, players pointed out.
All three have gotten off to fast starts, while the Coyotes have lagged behind at 2-4.
“We have to establish the confidence that we can get points at home,” Jovanovski said.
This is especially important because the division “has got to be No. 1,” right wing Owen Nolan said.
“Every team in it is good. These divisional games are so important to win. “There’s no room for error. The division is too good.”
Captain Shane Doan called the division “the best in the league.”
“We have to take care of business so we get a chance to stay with the pack.”
WHAT’S FOR DINNER?
Mike Morrison is OK to start in goal tonight after a freakish health problem prevented him from playing in Tuesday night’s win in St. Louis.
Morrison had a piece of steak get stuck in his throat Monday night. He spent the night in an emergency room to have it dislodged, so coach Wayne Gretzky didn’t play him because of the lost sleep.
Morrison might find himself presented with steak knives or maybe a blender by tonight.
“We’re going to have to cut his food for him,” Nolan joked.
Of course, such a problem can be serious.
Morrison said he’s had this problem before and that the problem might be genetic in nature.
As for Monday night’s ordeal, the worst part was waiting at the St. Louis hospital several hours to be treated.
“It was awful,” Morrison said.
But as far as his health was concerned, “It was just kind of an inconvenience. I could still breathe and talk.”
Morrison said he was grateful to Gretzky for not “punishing” him and allowing him to start tonight.
Gretzky will wear a microphone for tonight’s telecast. . . .
Mike Ricci is awaiting clearance to start practicing with the team, though his actual return from a neck injury is still weeks away.