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GDT Game 1: Coyotes take on Ducks in first game of the season

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Coyotes look to start the regular season off strong playing the team that gave them the most trouble during preseason.

Anaheim Ducks v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Game Preview

It’s finally here. After months of waiting the 2019-20 hockey season has begun. And for the first opponent, the Arizona Coyotes will be facing a familiar foe, their division rival Anaheim Ducks.

The Coyotes and the Ducks have already met twice in preseason this year. In those two matchups, the Ducks would prove to be tougher than their previous season’s record would suggest, taking Arizona to the shootout in their first meeting and beating the Desert Dogs 2-1 in their second. A 1-1-0 record against your opponents isn’t ideal, but that is preseason and everything changes tonight.

After starting last season with injuries to their key players like Christian Dvorak, Jakob Chychrun, and then-Coyote Alex Galchenyuk, the Coyotes are starting this season relatively healthy. Antti Raanta is nursing a lower body injury, but everything at this point points to it being a short term injury that hopefully won’t sideline him too long. And even then, recently re-signed Darcy Kuemper proved himself to be a solid starter last season and will be starting tonight.

You can point to the Coyotes’ poor offense last season and say that injuries were a key cause. When you are missing as many players as the Coyotes were last season not only are they not there to score, but you can’t stabilize your lines because players are having to play up a spot. With everyone healthy, we have a chance to see what the team is going to be like this season, and they have a great opportunity against the Ducks tonight.

There were few teams the Coyotes could feel sorry for when it came to injuries last season, but the Ducks were one of them. And things haven’t gotten better this season. A few weeks back the Ducks announced that both Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves are expected to miss the entire season. While both players have struggled in recent seasons due to injuries, Anaheim could use them if they were healthy.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Barrett Hayton - After spending the season in the OHL, the Coyotes fifth overall pick will get his chance to show what he can do in the NHL. Hayton has impressed in preseason and while we shouldn’t expect too much his rookie year he will hopefully show why the team drafted him where they did.

Anaheim: Jakob Silfverberg - The sole Duck to reach the 20 goal plateau last season, Silfverberg is key to the Ducks offense. Silfverberg has three twenty-plus goal seasons under his belt and will likely be key to the Ducks offense this season.

Injuries

Arizona: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (probable, illness), Antti Raanta (questionable, lower body)

Anaheim: John Gibson (questionable, abdominal), Brendan Guhle (questionable, abdominal), Ondrej Kase (upper body), Sam Steel (lower body), Ryan Kesler (hip), Patrick Eaves (illness)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be in Anaheim and will start at 7:00 pm Arizona time. It will air on Fox Sports Arizona and the radio broadcast will be through Fox Sports 910 AM.