Date: Saturday October 6th, 2018
Time: 6:00 PT / 9:00 ET
Location: Gila River Arena
TV: Fox Sports Prime
The Enemy: Five For Howling
I don’t have the energy to turn this preview into a limerick or GIF fest like Benny did. I apologize in advance.
The Ducks will be looking to clean up their game and not rely on astronomical shooting percentages and herculean performances from their goaltender. The 4 youngsters (Max Comtois, Troy Terry, Sam Steel, and Kiefer Sherwood) will try to continue their good play to prove to coach Randy Carlyle and General Manager Bob Murray that they belong in the lineup permanently.
Changes in the lineup for Anaheim likely include Brian Gibbon’s season debut on the 4th line. Gibbons blocked a shot in the final preseason game against the LA Kings and did not return, leading many to believe that he would be out for an extended period. Fortunately, x-rays were negative, and Gibbons only missed the season opener in San Jose.
Pontus Aberg is expected to come out of the lineup for Gibbons, with rookie Kiefer Sherwood’s tenacious play in San Jose earning him a promotion to the 3rd line with Sam Steel and Andrew Cogliano. You might not want to blink when that line is on the ice or you’ll probably miss them rocketing right by you.
Defenseman Andrej Sustr could make his season debut for Luke Schenn tonight after a rough performance in the defensive zone for the former Coyote. If Sustr is in, expect him to be pair with Marcus Pettersson.
Many are used to Arizona being bottom-dwellers over the last several seasons. However, you may not want to get too comfortable with ignoring them anymore. The Coyotes were arguably the NHL’s hotter teams in the second half of last season, going 20-13-7 down the stretch after tallying just 9 wins in the first half.
On the back of goaltender Antti Raanta’s league best .930 SV% over 47 games and a 65 point breakout performance from rookie Clayton Keller that led to a Calder Trophy nomination, Arizona signaled to the league that they are no longer bottom-feeders.
Led by newly-minted captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the young and speedy Coyotes will undoubtedly come out hungry in their home opener with another tough test for Anaheim’s new speed game.