COYOTES LOOK TO BUILD MOMENTUM
By: Russell Brooks
The Phoenix Coyotes returned to practice Sunday morning at Glendale Arena following a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild in their home opener on Saturday night.
With three tough games on the schedule this coming week, the Coyotes are looking to build momentum from Saturday's game.
"The win was big for us," said captain Shane Doan. "The first one is always tough; especially this year after being off (last season.)"
Even with a strong effort on Saturday, the Coyotes realize that the games are only going to get tougher and their level of play will have to rise each game.
"Hopefully, we can continue to get better every game," said Doan, who recorded his first goal of the season (the game-winner) in the third period of Saturday's win.
Phoenix goaltender Curtis Joseph is also looking to build on his second strong performance of the regular season. After compiling a 27-save performance in the first game of the season in Vancouver, "Cujo" will start Tuesday's contest in Dallas coming off a 23 save performance in his 800th NHL career game on Saturday night.
"We gave Curtis a day off (today) and he will play Tuesday," said Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky.
Newly acquired Phoenix forward Geoff Sanderson, who was brought in Saturday from Columbus for his speed and goal-scoring, will practice with the team on Monday and make his Coyotes debut on Tuesday in against the Stars.
"We needed some offense, some goal scoring," said Gretzky. "We were able to get it in this deal and get a player we really like."
Coyotes forward Mike Ricci will sit out against the Stars on Tuesday after breaking his nose in the third period of Saturday's contest against Minnesota.
"Most guys will take at least a few days off," said Gretzky. "I don't want him to play Tuesday night. Mike is the kind of guy that will try to play, but the reality is he will take Tuesday off and might go Thursday."
Goaltender Brian Boucher (groin), forward Petr Nedved (groin), and defenseman Derek Morris (groin) are also out for Tuesday's contest.
BLOCKED SHOTS GALORE
Through the first three games on the 2005-06 season, the Coyotes, as a team, have blocked a total of 48 shots, which puts Phoenix among the league leaders. Rookie defenseman Keith Ballard leads the team with 12 blocked shots.
"It's something I have always done and don't think about," said Ballard. "If it doesn't get to the net, it can't go in."
Gretzky has also been pleased with the commitment to defense and the sacrifices the Coyotes young defensemen have made to help the team be successful.
"The two young kids (Ballard and Michalek) have gone beyond the call of duty and one thing both players do real well is block shots," said Gretzky.
SANDERSON TO PRACTICE MONDAY
Geoff Sanderson will arrive in Phoenix in time to join his new teammates for Monday's practice at Glendale Arena.
After being given the choice to fly to Phoenix a day early or meet the club in Dallas, Sanderson chose to come to Arizona and spend some time with his new teammates.
"We left the decision up to him and he wanted to come in right away and fit in with this club," said Coyotes General Manager Mike Barnett.
The Coyotes will return to the ice on Tuesday, October 11th when they travel to Dallas to face the Stars. Tuesday's game can be seen on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) national broadcast. Fans can also listen to the game on KDUS-1060AM.