SAN JOSE -- Defenseman Dan Boyle will be back in the lineup Saturday night against the Phoenix Coyotes, his first game since being knocked unconscious Oct. 15 after a hit from behind by St. Louis Blues forward Maxim Lapierre.
"I had to be 100 percent and I wasn't 100 percent sure at the L.A. game," said Boyle, who has missed the past seven games.
Coach Todd McLellan held off Friday on declaring Boyle ready to return, but confirmed Saturday the medical staff has given the green light.
Boyle's presence on the power play was noticeable, even though its effectiveness did not drop off in his absence.
"He may be one of the top two or three quarterback-type defensemen in the league," McLellan said. "Anytime you take that out of the lineup, you're missing an elite player that can have a little poise with the puck. He brings it up the ice extremely well, reads the forecheck and can adapt quickly."
Based on pairings during the Saturday morning skate, defenseman Matt Irwin -- normally Boyle's partner -- will be a healthy scratch. Boyle skated with Brad Stuart during the team's drills.
Phoenix, long known for its stingy defense and strong goaltending by Mike Smith, has shown new offensive strength and trails the Sharks by only two points in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes have averaged 4.3 goals and are 5-1 over their past six games.
"They have the same system, the same style," McLellan said of Phoenix. "Their offensive players are clicking right now, they seem to be scoring a little bit more. The power play is more dangerous maybe than it has been in the past. But they very much look like the Phoenix Coyotes to me."
Putting Havlat on Couture's line reunites a unit that did have some success late last season.
"Before I got hurt last year, the ending of the season was pretty good," said Havlat, who is playing only his second game of the season. "Great to be there tonight. They're both great players so it's always fun to play with them."