Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 2/20/13
GLENDALE, Ariz. Matthew Lombardi had barely settled into the idea of being a Phoenix Coyote when that identity took a hit literally. In just his fourth game in a Coyotes sweater, Lombardi was back on the sidelines with a shoulder injury suffered against the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 24. Man, it was pretty disappointing with the excitement of coming back and coming to a team I had played with before, and then you have a setback, he said. Setbacks have been the norm for Lombardi the past three seasons. He missed 80 games two seasons ago with Nashville while dealing with a neck issue. Last season in Toronto, a separated shoulder forced him out of the lineup for a month and half. When he did return, he had a rough year, notching eight goals and 18 points in 62 games with a minus-19 plus-minus rating while playing primarily on the wing, instead of at his natural center position. The good news for Lombardi and the team is that he is due to play on the Coyotes upcoming road trip through Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. Thats a week or two before anybody expected him to return when he first suffered the injury. Hes been skating with the team, so he hasnt lost much in the way of conditioning. But just because Lombardi experienced a speedy recovery and will be back in the lineup this weekend doesnt mean everythings back to normal. Lombardi never got to experience normal with the Coyotes. The 113-day NHL lockout killed all but a few days of training camp, the injury killed any chance he had of establishing quick chemistry with his linemates, and past injuries made it difficult for Tippett and his staff to figure out the best home for their newest member. Its hard to evaluate him right now because he missed a lot of hockey the last couple of years, and then in Toronto he probably played more wing than center, Tippett said. Weve got to find where he fits best in that group, the players that will help him and the players that he can help. Lombardis obvious attributes are his speed and his versatility. He can and likely will see time on both the power play and penalty-killing units when he rounds back into game shape. But who he plays with on a regular basis will be a work in progress, and there will be elements of his game that take awhile to hone. Your decision making, said captain Shane Doan, when asked which element has taken the longest to return after the lengthy lockout. My decision making is still slow right now, so Im sure hell catch up and pass me right away here. Because of his speed, the game is easier for him. (The speed of the game) is usually the biggest problem, and yet thats his strength, so Im assuming it will be a quick transition. Tippett isnt concerned with the amount of time Lombardi has missed, noting there are still 32 games to play. Nor is he concerned with Lombardis psyche after three seasons of hard knocks. Theres still time to get him up and going, and we think he can be a valuable piece for us, Tippett said. Hes a pretty driven guy right now. Hes just got to get out there and get himself feeling comfortable. Its just all about playing right now. The mental preparation in his head has been gone over and over. Lombardi insists that mental side doesnt include any excess baggage. Theres no point in pouting and feeling sorry for yourself, he said. You want to, but then you look at the big picture of things and you realize its not that big of a deal. It could have been worse. Three weeks later, Im back here and feeling a lot better. Luckily enough, I know most of the guys here and the coaching staff as well. I got to travel with the team last week and I got to practice with the guys. You start to create a little bit of chemistry that way; maybe not as much as on the ice, but just being around the guys was good for me. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Rockets fear Chris Paul could miss a month with knee injury

15 key questions for NFL Week 7

Vin Scully will not make appearance during World Series

Leonard Fournette still not practicing ahead of Week 7

Dusty Baker calls Nationals dismissal ‘hard to understand’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Draymond Green feels ‘big relief’ that knee injury was minor

Bradford ruled out of Week 7, expected to play again in 2017

NFL on Ezekiel Elliott: ‘We’re not looking to make a deal’

Brad Stevens: Hayward 'pretty positive' following surgery

Panthers LB Luke Kuechly ruled out for Week 7

NFL reviewing Marshawn Lynch's contact with official, not sitting in stands

The 'Like Mike, only better' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Dodgers finish Cubs while Astros find pain in the Bronx

The 'Some call me the Rocket, some people call me Maurice' quiz

Kyrie Irving must lead Celtics through a disaster in search for happiness

Jacoby Brissett: The forgotten up-and-comer

NFL Week 7 Predictions

The 'Can I have a quick sword with you?' quiz

College football 2017 Week 8 predictions

NFL Referee Hotline Bling: Austin Seferian-Jenkins drops a call

Blackhawks get extra depth on defense with newbies Rutta and Forsling

The 'Old faces in new places' quiz

Nikola Jokic: A throwback superstar for the modern era

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

The 'Like Mike, only better' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Dodgers finish Cubs while Astros find pain in the Bronx

The 'Some call me the Rocket, some people call me Maurice' quiz

Kyrie Irving must lead Celtics through a disaster in search for happiness

Jacoby Brissett: The forgotten up-and-comer

NFL Week 7 Predictions

College football 2017 Week 8 predictions

The 'Can I have a quick sword with you?' quiz

NFL Referee Hotline Bling: Austin Seferian-Jenkins drops a call

Blackhawks get extra depth on defense with Rutta and Forsling

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker