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Coyotes Game 1 Preview: The Season Begins

The Arizona Coyotes begins!

Pittsburgh Penguins v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Game Preview

Hockey season is back again! Unfortunately, the Arizona Coyotes are still early in their rebuild, so expect lots of pain this year. But at least hockey is back!

The Coyotes don’t have the easiest start this season. Tonight is the start of a six-game road trip to start the season, and the Desert Dogs will play 20 of their first 24 games on the road.

Like last year, the team will likely finish at the bottom of the standings, but there are still reasons to play hard. Everyone who gets on the ice will be playing for their next contract, getting a chance to play for a competitor, or just their pride.

There have been some significant changes to the Coyotes’ roster since last season. Arizona acquired forwards Nick Bjugstad and Zack Kassian, defensemen Josh Brown, Patrik Nemeth, Troy Stetcher, and Jusso Välimäki, and goaltender Connor Ingram.

Ingram was a last-minute addition for General Manager Bill Armstrong, who claimed the Saskatoon netminder off waivers when the Nashville Predators tried to send him to the AHL. Ingram had a 2.70 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage with the Milwaukee Admirals and could prove to be a solid counterpart to Karel Vejmelka playing in his second year in the NHL.

Dylan Guenther also looks to be making his NHL debut and can play nine games before burning the first year of his ELC. Guenther would need to have an unbelievable start to say past n

Tonight looks to be the return of Clayton Keller, who hasn’t played since last month when he fractured his leg falling awkwardly into the boards. Keller was the Coyotes’ best player last season, and it will be great to see him return.

After finishing third in the Metropolitan Division, the Pittsburgh Penguins made a few changes to their lineup. They acquired Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling for Mike Matheson and brought in defenseman Jan Rutta. Also joining the Penguins is former Coyote Josh Archibald, who signed as a free agent.

There were questions if Evgeni Malkin would re-sign with the Penguins, but the forward is back on a four-year, $24.4 million deal. The 36-year-old forward had 20 goals and 22 assists in 41 games last season, and it looks like he still has plenty left in the tank.

The Penguins will have Tristan Jarry in net again this season. The Surrey, BC native is in the third year of a three-year, $10.5 million deal and had a 2.42 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Clayton Keller - Keller was the Coyotes’ best player last season, and it will be great to see him back on the ice. While it’s probably too much to expect him to go above and beyond in his first game back, he’s still the most likely to have a big game.

Pittsburgh: Evgeni Malkin - Malkin missed half last season, but he didn’t miss a step when he got back. He finished last season with a goal and an assist against the Columbus Blue Jackets.


Arizona: Bryan Little (ear), Ben McCartney (lower body), Andrew Ladd (knee), Jakob Chychrun (wrist)

Pittsburgh: Tedd Blueger (questionable, upper body), Jeff Carter (questionable, upper body)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be at 4:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona and ESPN 620 AM.