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Coyotes are looking to own the desert against Vegas Golden Knights

The Coyotes will face the newest desert hockey team in their home opener.

Vegas Golden Knights v Dallas Stars Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Finally! The home opener is here and Arizona Coyotes fans get to see the new team in NHL action that counts.

Today the Coyotes host the Vegas Golden Knights at home in Gila River Arena.

This is the part where we would normally show you the stats comparing the team’s previous seasons but the Golden Knights didn’t exist last season. Instead here is the low bar the new expansion team needs to reach, if not exceed, the last place team.

Game 1 Vegas at Arizona

Stats Arizona Coyotes Colorado Avalanche
Stats Arizona Coyotes Colorado Avalanche
Points 70 points (6th Pacific) 48 Points (7th Central)
Goals For 132 (23rd) 165 (30th)
Goals Against 168 (27th) 276 (30th)
Power Play 16.2% (26th) 12.6% (30th)
Penalty Kill 77.3% (27th) 76.6% (29th)
5v5 Corsi For % 45.06 (30th) 48.53 (23rd)
Shooting % 7.28% (21st) 6.29% (29th)
PDO 99.72 (17th) 97.00 (30th)

View From Vegas

For more information on the Golden Knights and their preview go to Knights On Ice

The Vegas Golden Knights had an extremely busy off season from every perspective. It started off with the expansion draft and continued right up to last night where they played their first road game against the Dallas Stars.

Marc-André Fleury was absolutely lights out for his new team in their first game ever, stopping 45 of 46 shots on goal. This kept the team in the game long enough for James Neal to score not one, but two goals in the third period, forever marking his legacy in hockey history as a sports trivia question.

Tonight’s game is the first in a home and home series of games for the two desert hockey teams who will end up competing in five games to see who will #OwnTheDesert. It will be interesting to see if the Golden Knights decide to play Fleury again or if they will give their backup goalie, Malcolm Subban, a chance in net. Another interesting roster decision will be which of the nine defenders they have on this trip will be playing. Last night Griffin Reinhart, Jon Merrill and Brad Hunt were the healthy scratches while Brayden McNabb, Deryk Engelland, Colin Miller, Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa, and Nate Schmidt all played.

View From Arizona

The Coyotes are coming off a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, where they started off really well with a 4-1 lead. Unfortunately, the entire team took their feet off the gas in the latter half of the game and four unanswered goals by the Ducks wrecked their hopes of winning the season opener.

On the bright side, this means that the team is going to be hungry for a win especially in front of their hometown fans. Additionally, with the Golden Knights coming off a road win, the Coyotes are going to be looking to hand the team that is currently undefeated in the regular season their very first loss in franchise history.

Another piece of good news is that it was announced that goaltender Antti Raanta is ready to go from his lower body injury. All indications so far are that the presumed starting goaltender will be in goal for the home opener.

Three Questions

Can the Vets keep up? The Kids (anyone from the last three draft classes) were great in the previous game but the veteran players, not so much. Brutal turnovers by Niklas Hjalmarsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers and an offensive zone faceoff loss by Derek Stepan led to all of the goals against. Can they unlearn old habits and help lead the young guys to success?

Will the kids rebound? They got off to a good start in Anaheim with Anthony Duclair, Clayton Keller, Max Domi and Christian Fischer hitting the back of the net. However, they need to be able to sustain that pressure through 60 minutes of play even if the veterans are having a bad night.

Have you had your heart checked lately? Seriously. The new pace of play is much much faster than Coyotes fans are used to seeing. This means there are not only plenty of chances for your favorite team but also against them as well.

Players to Watch

Arizona- Dylan Strome: Although Strome got his first NHL point in his 7 game stint last season he is still looking for that first NHL goal. He didn’t get the opportunity to play in the home opener last season perhaps the excitement of being in one can raise his level of play.

Vegas- Brendan Leipsic: picked from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the expansion draft Leipsic played very well against Dallas. He nearly earned the team their first goal, but it was waived off as it went in after the whistle.

Injury Report

Arizona Coyotes: Jakob Chychrun, Knee Surgery, no timetable for return. Zac Rinaldo is serving the second of the five games he was suspended for in March of 2015. He can return against the Stars, October 17th.

Vegas Golden Knights: Clayton Stoner was placed on the injured reserve list with an unspecified injury. He is expected to return in mid-October possibly as early as the Vegas home opener on October 10th.

Puck Drop

Puck drops at 6:00 pm at the Gila River Arena in Glendale. You can watch it live on Fox Sports Arizona and the Fox Sports Go App. You can catch the radio call on ESPN 620AM.