It's the most wonderful time of the year! Not Christmas, COYOTEMAS! Sure we've had a couple days of regular season hockey involving other teams, but now it's go time for our guys. After and offseason not lacking in off the ice drama and a preseason coaching change it's time to get down to the actual playing.
The Coyotes have been interesting to watch this preseason and Ilya Bryzgalov looked good in his last start against the San Jose Sharks. Shutting them out as the Coyotes won 2-0. Bryzgalov will be in net again tonight in an arena the Coyotes are 5-2-0 in over the last 7 meetings.
On the Forward side of things Robert Lang is ready to go after being signed last week. If he can bring any of the scorring touch he had before his injury last year then it's a solid pick up for the Coyotes. Lang will be on a line with Shane Doan and Mikkel Boedker according to the Coyotes website.
No idea on the rest of the lines, though we know Taylor Pyatt is out for another couple of week.
On the Kings front they'll be going with a top line of Anze Kopitar, Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams. Our favorite Doan check target Wayne Simmonds will be playing tonight too... We can only hope for something like this...
FIVE FOR WINNING
Get Doan Started Early - Shane Doan has only had 1 point so far in the preseason. It's easily explained away since you're giving ice time to players that are trying to earn spots, but still concerning as with the exception of last year Doan is notorious for his slow starts. We can't rely on him to carry the team, but at the same time, he's crucial to our success.
Get the D Flowing - With the overhauled defense we should hopefully cut down on the flubs that coninually cost us games last year. Adrian Aucoin and Jim Vandermeer aren't flashy, but they do get the job done defensively. I want to see them stifle the Kings tonight.
Keep Up the Momentum in Goal - Bryz had a strong showing in the game against the Sharks, but now we're playing for real. Going back to the previous point, hopefully the improved D can give him some more confidence that he was lacking last year.
Protect the Blue - One thing I saw in that Sharks game was that the Coyotes were finally protecting their own zone. Rarely were people just walking in like they usually did, the other team actually had to play the dump and chase instead of just us. Keep that up and the Goals Against will be down significantly from last year.
Get the Young Guys Started Right - Peter Mueller especially needs to get going this season in a hurry. After an outstanding rookie year, he hit the sophomore jinx hard last year. He doesn't need to score a couple of goals tonight (Though that would be great) he just needs to gain some confidence and look like a threat in the first few games. Hanzal and Boedker would be nice to see putting up points too. Boedker is getting first line minutes with Doan tonight so we'll see if he can contribute. Hanzal just need to start shooting more frequently. He has a wicked cannon of a shot, but chooses to pass frequently.