[Updated 4:00 pm, Anaheimducks.com preview w/ video]
[Updated 12:10 am, Eric Stephens lineup/injury update]
The first preseason game of the year is by far, the most exciting of all the steps leading up to the regular season. We've seen charity games, we've seen prospect tournaments, practices and scrimmages, but this looks and feels almost like a real game. It isn't, but it looks and feels that way, kind of.
Sure, the later exhibition games will have a closer resemblance to the lineup we'll see on opening night, but by that time we'll just be ready for some real hockey to get underway. Plus, the guys in the lineup tonight will be all full of piss and vinegar, trying to prove something to the coaching staff and management before they inevitably get sent back from whence they came.
The Coyotes have actually already started their preseason with two games against the Kings yesterday. They beat up on the Kings twice in split squad games 5 -1 and 4-2 in LA and Glendale, respectively. Their goals in the first game (at LA) came from Gilbert Brule, Rob Klinkhammer (awesome name) Brendan Yip (2) and an unnamed individual, on the backhand (box scores without names, eh NHL.com?, good thing it's only the preseason. Update: Turns out it was Guillaume Latendresse). Meanwhile, Jaden Schwartz, Mikel Boedker, Shane Doan and Keith Yandle scored for the home crowd.
More notable than the scores of the games however was the hit laid by Jordan Nolan of the Kings on Rusty Klesla, who had to be stretchered off the ice, in the later game at Jobing.com Arena. No video is available as of this writing, but I imagine there is one forthcoming from Sheriff Shanahan.
Keys to the Game: Preseason hockey is pretty much the opposite of all other hockey. It doesn't matter who wins or loses, and is for the most part all about individual performances. So really, there aren't keys to this game per se, other than try to be better than the guy next to you because he could take your job.
What Can We Learn From this Game: There is so much to learn in this game, especially for those of us in So Cal who very rarely get to see our prospects first hand. As with any preseason game, it's all about evaluating talent and chemistry. Unfortunately, until we know more about the lineup we're kind of out of luck in terms of specifics here.
Fearless Prediction: Jim Balsillie, disguised as a reporter, hijacks the Coyotes' charter flight back to Phoenix, Air Force One style, in a last ditch effort to move the team to Hamilton, but is thwarted by the dry, cool wit of Shane Doan. "GET OFF MY PLANE!"
Stay tuned here for updates throughout the day (lineup news, etc.) and start commenting. We'll have a quick stats pack shortly before puck drop for the in game comments to flow.
Hiller and Andersen are playing tonight. Ducks hitting ice for morning skate. All the other goalies were part of early workout.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) September 16, 2013
Notables Ducks tonight: Selanne, Etem, Sbisa, Allen, Winnik, Holland, Silfverberg, Staubitz, Lindholm, Cogliano, Rakell, Vatanen, Noesen.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) September 16, 2013
Stretching the definition of notable there a little bit with Staubitz?
Ducks first-rounder Shea Theodore will also be in action.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) September 16, 2013
Notables for Phoenix: Brule, Chipchura, Miele, Yip, Schlemko, Rundblad, Gormley, Latendresse, Stone, Klinkhammer.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) September 16, 2013
Nick Sorensen (appendicitis) and Joseph Cramarossa (eye) haven't been able to take part in camp. Latter injured in fight during rookie game.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) September 16, 2013
BB confirmed that Hiller and Andersen will split time tonight. Not sure yet if it's 40-20 or 30-30. Hiller will start.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) September 16, 2013
Preview with quotes [Anaheimducks.com]