It's finally Coyote-mas folks. After playing two early morning contests in Prague the meat of the season begins with tonight's home opener in Glendale. What a more fitting opponent that the Red Wings to play too. We get a chance to exorcise the demons of the playoff loss to the jerks, well at least a little bit. Nothing can replace that game, but an home opener win over them would certainly help soothe any hurt that still reamins after the long offseason.
It's hard to tell what the Coyotes will be like today though as they've been off for almost a week since they last played in Prague. With a 9 hour time difference between Prague and a whole readjustment coming back the practices have been somewhat fewer until the last couple of days. A couple of things we do know; Kyle Turris should get his first start of the year and he'll likely be paired with Shane Doan and Scottie Upshall. Derek Morris is also feeling better from his injury so David Schlemko will be on press box duty. Ray Whitney is still up in the air on if he'll play or not and if he does he could replace Upshall on Turris' wing and move someone else out of the line up. No word on Paul Bissonnette Coyote fans...
As for the Red Wings, there's a possibility they could be playing with only 11 forwards as Justin Abdelkader is definitely out and Johan Franzen is reportedly out after a minor concussion caused by a Mark Fistric hit in the Wings 4-1 loss to Dallas on Thursday. There are some reports apparently on twitter that Franzen could be in the lineup, but I doubt they rush him after a head injury this early in the year. Being shorthanded won't be a good thing for the Wings who have lost their last two games to the aforementioned Stars and an OT loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
(More after the jump and game thread at 5:30 MST for those not attending the game)
Five for Winning
Doan on a Rampage?: Remember how Shane Doan played against the Wings in the Playoffs? Well after only getting to play in 3 of the games you know he's still got some juice left for them. Add in the home opening game for the Coyotes and that could be a recipe for fireworks. Hopefully it's contagious because if there's one style of game the shorthanded Wings team won't want to play it's a physical one.
Kyle Turris 2.0: We all remember Kyle from his initial season with the team in 2008-09. He was undersized and wasn't ready to play the big game yet, but thanks to our need for players and some poor decisions by the staff he played anyways. Then he got to spend all of last season with the Rampage actually learning to play the game and putting on some weight. He's still no giant, but he can actually go into corners and the front of the net without getting completely eaten and stand his ground. He gets a chance to reestablish himself starting tonight.
Rust or Rest: That's always the question after a layoff like the Coyotes have had. All the teams that played in Europe other than the Hurricanes are in action tonight so they all face the same thing. reports from Phoenix have most of the team looking pretty good and having made the transition back to their regular time zone. Dave Tippett said that the guys are basically treating it like the season opener all over again with how different it is playing games in Europe. That's not such a bad thing as it should charge them up a little bit more.
Jovo vs Holmstrom: This is the battle that has to happen for most of the night. There are a lot of holes we could talk about in Ed Jovanovski's game, but being big and strong isn't one of them. He's probably the most physical of out defensemen and he needs to get down in the trenches to get Tomas out of the crease tonight. Just don't even let him get set up down there. It's easier said than done, but will go a long way in disrupting the Detroit offense.
Draw penalties: The Coyotes aren't the strongest power play team around, but part of the problem in the Boston games was they could even get the penalties to begin with. Good on Boston, but it was also a side effect of not skating as hard as maybe we should have and creating difficult spots for the Bs. We need to get what was a poor power play unit looking like this...
He's starting to establish himself as the leading defenseman on the team and is getting some buzz around the league. While Jovo my be older and have an A, Yandle is emerging as a leader for the team and will be good for years to come. Everyone get on the bandwagon.
HOOOOOOOOOOOWAAAAAAARD! HOOOOOOOOOOOWAAAAAAARD! HOOOOOOOOOOOWAAAAAAARD!
That was mock cheering. Just making sure you knew.