Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 4/13/12
GLENDALE, Ariz. Coyotes captain Shane Doan understands the difficulty of competing without a top player in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He was there in 1997 when Jeremy Roenick blew out his knee in a knee-on-knee collision with Anaheim center Ted Drury in Game 6 of a seven-game series loss that Phoenix had led three games to two. He was there in 1998 when the Coyotes lost goalie Nikolai Khabibulin to a groin injury in Game 4, when they were leading Detroit two games to one. They also played without defenseman Teppo Numminen (groin) for all but one game of that series, which they lost in six. In 1999, they played all but one game of a seven-game series loss to St. Louis without Roenick (broken jaw), their leading scorer. And in 2010, Doan was the man missing after suffering a Grade 3 shoulder separation in Game 3 against Detroit. The Coyotes again were eliminated in seven, after leading two games to one. Now the Coyotes are facing life without leading goal scorer Radim Vrbata, who was injured on his first shift against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their first-round series Thursday at Jobing.com Arena. Chicago wing Andrew Shaw injured Vrbata along the boards with a crunching hit, robbing the Coyotes of a guy who accounted for nearly one in every six goals they scored this season. The Coyotes are calling it an "upper-body injury" -- Shaw said he thought Vrbata's shoulder was injured. He scores goals that other people just dont, Doan said. If he hadnt been hurt this year for a little bit he probably would have gotten 40 (Vrbata had 35), and theres not many 40-goal scorers in the league. Losing him so early made it tough on the lines. It (created) some confusion with who youre going with. Mikkel Boedker was Vrbatas replacement on the Ray WhitneyMartin Hanzal line on Thursday, and coach Dave Tippett liked what he saw. But Tippett was non-committal when asked if that new line would remain intact for Game 2 on Saturday. Theres enough there that we can grab onto, but Im not sure where our lineup is going to be yet, Tippett said Friday. Well continue to monitor what we think works for us, the combinations, what might fall into place with different matchups, different scenarios to try to get your rhythm in a game. Vrbata is listed as day-to-day, but as is the custom in the NHL, Tippett wont disclose the nature of the injury, despite Shaws hunch. What are we going to call it? Uh, upper body, Tippett said before waxing comedic about the NHLs vague injury reporting protocol of dividing the body into upper and lower portions. A few years ago, we had to get into quarters. Now were into halves. The Coyotes played five games down the stretch without Vrbata when he was dealing with an allergic reaction to penicillin. Were used to finding ways to make due without him, Doan said. More to the point, the Coyotes feel they have the horses to handle the loss. Thats something thats a little new for our team, Doan said. In the past, you might not have the depth at every line. Our first line was Hanzal and Vrby and (Whitney), no doubt about that, but then, after that, theres there lines that can be in any order. That depth was on display when the Coyotes got secondary scoring from wing Taylor Pyatt and center Antoine Vermette in Thursdays 3-2 overtime win. They are hoping that asset will be enough to avoid having history repeat itself. Its pretty tough when you lose your best goal scorer, Hanzal said.
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