Center is one of few bright spots for depleted Coyotes - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Center is one of few bright spots for depleted Coyotes

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Posted: Monday, March 15, 2004 10:22 pm | Updated: 5:18 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Mike Comrie will play his 40th game of the season tonight, and he's in midseason form.

He has five goals in the last six games.

He set a new career high with a goal in his fourth straight game during Sunday's 4-1 loss in Colorado and was denied a second on a penalty shot.

After three months on the sideline as a holdout in Edmonton, another two in limbo in Philadelphia, he finally has his conditioning to the point where he can play 18 to 20 minutes a night without losing his legs.

And wouldn't you know it, the most frustrating of Comrie's 23 years has one final cruel twist in store. He's about to run out of hockey. The Coyotes have only 10 games left; they could be mathematically eliminated as soon as tonight and in three weeks, he will have to work off his recharged batteries on the golf course.

“The season is closing down and it's funny and frustrating all at once,'' said Comrie, who has six goals and 13 points in his 18 games with Phoenix. “I don't want this to end. I'm finally in a place where I'm comfortable, I'm feeling like myself again, I've gotten over the wall and now we're done.

“It just makes me hungrier for next season, when we have our whole team here and we see what we're capable of doing.''

It hasn't been all wine and roses for Comrie since he came to Phoenix a little more than a month ago. The Coyotes have won only two of their last 22 games (2-16-2-2) and drag an ugly 12-game losing streak into tonight's game with Anaheim. The coach was fired, veterans like Chris Gratton, Jan Hrdina, Brian Savage, Mike Sillinger and Ossi Vaananen were traded, teammates David Tanabe, Ladislav Nagy and Mike Johnson are lost for the season to injury.

And then there was Comrie himself, who had trouble handling all the ice time handed him by interim coach Rick Bowness, and that showed up in a minus-7 effort over a four-game stretch in mid-February. But with increased endurance came an upward spike in production and effort.

“Over the last few weeks, he's made some adjustments to his game and he's competing a lot harder,'' Bowness said. “Now that the conditioning is better, he's more comfortable, he's playing hard, he made adjustments and he's playing very solid hockey for us.''

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