Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-1 loss to the Predators.
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Coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, winger Jamie McGinn and defenseman Zbynek Michalek.
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-0 loss to the Blues.
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Coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Luke Schenn and goalie Mike Smith react to the loss on Saturday at Gila River Arena. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 5-4 shootout loss to the Red Wings.
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, winger Radim Vrbata and defenseman Jakob Chychrun react to the loss.
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-2 shootout win over the Kings, Mar. 14, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Louis Domingue, defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and winger Max Domi react to the 3-2 shootout win against the Kings, Mar. 14, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 1-0 win over the Avalanche, Mar. 13, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, captain Shane Doan and winger Brendan Perlini react to the win, Mar. 13, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 5-4 win over the Devils on Saturday.
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, winger Tobias Rieder and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo react to the 5-4 win on Saturday. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 3-2 overtime loss to the Senators.
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Coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, winger Lawson Crouse and winger Brendan Perlini react to the 3-2 overtime loss.
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Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata is set to play his 1,000th game Thursday against the Senators.
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The Arizona Coyotes Foundation held their annual golf tournament for charity at the Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Players Shane Doan, Max Domi and Brendan Perlini comment.
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 2-1 loss to the Hurricanes on Sunday in Glendale.
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Coach Dave Tippett, goalie Mike Smith, winger Max Domi and defenseman Jakob Chychrun react to the 2-1 loss on Sunday in Glendale. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 4-2 win over the Hurricanes.
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Coach Dave Tippett, captain Shane Doan, center Jordan Martinook and goalie Louis Domingue react to the win.
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Coyotes insider Sarah McLellan looks at the plus and minus in the 6-3 loss to the Sabres on Thursday.
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Coach Dave Tippett, defenseman Alex Goligoski, winger Tobias Rieder and winger Teemu Pulkkinen react to the loss on Thursday. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes General Manager John Chayka, winger Radim Vrbata and captain Shane Doan discuss the two players staying with Arizona.
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azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and azcentral’s Craig Harris discuss the latest on the Coyotes’ search for an arena and the Diamondbacks’ feud with the county over Chase Field.
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Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, goalie Louis Domingue, defenseman Alex Goligoski and winger Radim Vrbata react to the loss against the Stars, Feb. 24, 2017. (Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports)
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The Washington Capitals hosted United Arab Emirates native and hockey phenom Fatima Al Ali.
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Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald skates for the first time with Arizona Coyotes’ Shane Doan. (Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports)
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For the first time, the Coyotes brought their dads on a road trip.
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Coyotes goalie Mike Smith reflects on his experience at the NHL All-Star Game on Monday. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Coyotes captain Shane Doan discusses the possibility of seeking a trade this season. Sarah McLellan/azcentral sports
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Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Predators
Coyotes open road trip with 3-1 loss to Predators
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Blues
Coyotes shut out 3-0 by the Blues
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Red Wings
Coyotes clipped by Red Wings 5-4 in a shootout
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Kings
Coyotes outlast Kings in 11-round shootout
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Avalanche
Coyotes blank Avalanche 1-0
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Devils
Coyotes hold off Devils in third period
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Senators
Senators rally past Coyotes for overtime win
Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata reaches 1,000-game milestone
Arizona Coyotes Foundation Golf Tournament 2017
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Hurricanes
Hurricanes rally past Coyotes with late third-period goal
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Hurricanes
Coyotes react to road win over Hurricanes
Sarah McLellan’s plus-minus against the Sabres
Coyotes react to their 6-3 loss to the Sabres
Radim Vrbata, Shane Doan remain with Coyotes after NHL trade deadline
Shot Clock: Could they leave? Latest on Coyotes’ arena situation
Stars rally past Coyotes for 5-2 win
Hockey phenom from UAE takes the ice with the Capitals
Arizona Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald skates for the first time with Shane Doan
Coyotes bring their dads on the road to San Jose
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith on memorable All-Star Game experience
Coyotes captain Shane Doan not ruling out trade possibility
NASHVILLE – Hockey was still hockey.
When the puck dropped, defenseman Zbynek Michalek wanted to do his best and help his team.
That didn’t change.
What was different, though, was the backdrop.
On the heels of 11 consecutive seasons in the NHL, Michalek was starring in the minors with the Tucson Roadrunners after getting trimmed from the Coyotes’ roster as a veteran late in his career.
He missed the fans, crowded buildings and the ability to compete at the sport’s highest level until, eventually, he didn’t have to miss them anymore.
“I couldn’t be any happier, and I just want to enjoy it,” he said. “Who knows how many games I’ve got, so I just want to enjoy every single one.”
Michalek was recalled from the American Hockey League on Sunday to add depth to the Coyotes’ blue line and immediately made his season debut, skating in a 3-1 loss to the Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Monday that mathematically eliminated the Coyotes from playoff contention at the outset of a five-game road trip.
BOX SCORE: Predators 3, Coyotes 1
A clearing attempt by center Christian Dvorak banked off winger Viktor Arvidsson and over goalie Mike Smith five minutes into the second period. The Predators added their second with 3:16 to go in the period on a blistering one-timer from defenseman Ryan Ellis, who scored another one-timer at 6:35 of the third. Later in the period, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson converted on the power play to snap the team’s scoreless skid at 123:35. Arizona went 1-for-2 with the man advantage, while Nashville was 0-for-1.
Goalie Pekka Rinne posted 25 saves, while Smith had 28 stops.
As for Michalek, the 34-year-old logged 15:55, filling out a third pairing next to rookie Jakob Chychrun – who’s 16 years his junior – and looking like the player he always has been with the Coyotes. He manned the penalty kill, blocked shots (three to be exact) and – quite simply – worked.
He was told after Saturday’s Roadrunners game he was being summoned to the NHL, and the news surprised him.
Assigned to the AHL in October, Michalek had spent his entire season to date with Tucson after falling down the depth chart during training camp. The demotion was disappointing, and Michalek acknowledged it was tough for him to find motivation, but in time, his outlook improved.
“I just don’t pack it in and give up,” he said. “That’s just not my nature. That’s not who I am. I just put my head down and worked hard and worked to do my best to help the team and help the young guys in the organization and in Tucson and help the coaching staff down there. Just play my game hard and lead by example.”
Michalek said he had no hard feelings regarding the team’s decision to send him to the minors, and while this return to the NHL is meaningful, he’s doesn’t think it will impact the decision he has to make about his playing future.
Once the season ends, Michalek plans to discuss his options with his wife Helena and his agent, and retirement from the NHL is a possibility.
“This could be it for me, especially in this league,” he said. “Most likely it is. That’s why it’s special to have this opportunity to maybe finish it with this team and this organization. This feels right.”
Of the 782 regular-season games he’s appeared in, 610 have been with the Coyotes, with this Michalek’s third stint and 10th season. Only captain Shane Doan has played more games with the franchise in Arizona than Michalek.
“In my heart it feels right if this is it for me to finish it here wearing this jersey,” he said.
The present, though, is where Michalek’s focus is at now.
His children, 7-year-old Andreas and 4-year-old Ella, will be able to watch him on TV, which they missed doing.
And Michalek will once again experience what it’s like to be an NHLer and the pride that comes with donning a jersey – a feeling he’s going to bask in while he’s with the Coyotes.
“This might be the last few games I get to play,” he said. “If this is the finish line, I just want to enjoy it and have the best time.”
Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-8276. Follow her at twitter.com/azc_mclellan.
Coyotes at Lightning
When: 4:30 p.m.
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Fla.
TV/radio: Fox Sports Arizona-Plus/KTAR-AM (620).
Lightning update: The Lightning have been idle since Saturday, when the team fell 5-3 to the Capitals, their second straight loss. Overall, Tampa Bay has gone 6-3-1 in its last 10 games. With 11 games left in the regular season, the group remains in contention for a playoff spot. Winger Nikita Kucherov paces the offense with 33 goals and 71 points. Captain Steven Stamkos remains sidelined after knee surgery in November. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is 17-15-6 with a .916 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average.