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Coyotes Begin 2011-12 Training Camp with Three Practices, Scrimmage

Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 7:10 PM / Features
By Dave Vest
GLENDALE -- The Coyotes dropped the puck on their 2011-12 Training Camp on Saturday inside Jobing.com Arena.

Head Coach Dave Tippett and new assistants Jim Playfair and John Anderson split the 62-player camp roster into three groups and those groups practiced separately.

Teams A and B scrimmaged for 30 minutes early in the day in front of a few hundred spectators.

Head Coach Dave Tippett maps out a drill. Photo by Norm Hall.
With only three days of practice/conditioning scheduled before the preseason opener on Tuesday night at Anaheim, there is little time for “summer hockey,” as Tippett described it in his post-practice press conference.

“These first three days we’ll have a different theme each day and our practice is kind of gauged around some simple tactical stuff as well as just kind of getting moving,” Tippett said. “We’ve got young players who sometimes are nervous out there, (and) we’ve got veteran players (that) you’ve got to get into a competitive mode.”

Mike Smith and Jason LaBarbera were the goalies for the first 15 minutes of the scrimmage. Neither allowed a goal. Tippett is hoping the two will push each other during camp.

“We feel our goaltending will be in great shape,” Tippett said. “Sean Burke will do a great job with them. Mike Smith and LaBarbera both play a similar style. They’re big guys who cover a lot of net (and) move with the puck very well, so we expect Mike to come in and fit in very well with our group. I know him very well from Dallas… If we play well in front of Mike or LaBarbera, whichever goalie’s in there, I think our goaltending will play well.”

Goalie Mike Smith makes a save. Photo by Norm Hall.
Smith, of course, signed with the Coyotes as a free agent on July 1 to replace Ilya Bryzgalov as the starting goalie.

“It was nice to get started today,” Smith said. “It seemed like the last couple weeks before camp seemed to go on forever… It’s nice to get started and face some real shots and get ready for some preseason games coming up pretty quick.”

Smith was asked to describe his mind-set coming into camp.

“I’m looking at this as I’ve got to be consistent and I’ve got to play well when I get the chance to play,” he said. “I know ‘Barbs’ is going to want to play games too... so we’re going to push each other to be the best that we can be as a tandem. I don’t look at it as No. 1 and No. 2. I look at it as he’s a great guy and I think he’s a real good goaltender and we’re going to push each other to be our best. Hopefully we’ll have a really good season.”

Coyotes captain Shane Doan skated with Team A. This is Doan’s 16th season with the franchise, and the final year of his current contract.

Captain Shane Doan leads a stretch. Photo by Norm Hall.
As captain, a big part of Doan’s job is to welcome newcomers such as Smith, Raffi Torres, Boyd Gordon and old pal Daymond Langkow to the dressing room.

Doan, Langkow and Ray Whitney played on the top line for Team A during the scrimmage. He liked their chemistry.

“‘Lanks' competes so well and does so many little things well that playing with him, I enjoy it so much,” Doan said. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to do that again. (Whitney) is one of the craftier guys in the whole league and with the stuff he can do with the puck, my goal is to just try to get the puck to those two and hopefully create some space.”

Doan will enter the season four goals shy of 300 for his career.

NOTES:

• Center Andy Miele, who is looking to earn a roster spot, continued to impress the coaching staff. Tippett called the 2011 Hobey Baket Award winner’s work ethic and ability “phenomenal.”

• Defenseman Brandon Gormley took part in practice wearing a cage on his helmet. Gormley was hit by a stray puck in the face on Wednesday during a rookie game vs. the Los Angeles Kings.

• Team A beat Team B, 2-1, in the scrimmage. Darian Dziurzynski, Adrian Aucoin and Langkow scored the goals. Goalie Mark Visentin allowed Aucoin’s goal, and goalie Justin Pogge allowed the other two. Defenseman Michal Rozsival prevented a goal by sweeping a loose puck away from Team A’s net just before it crossed the goal line.

• A few players have changed sweater numbers this season: Brett MacLean has switched from No. 39 to No. 8; Petteri Nokelainen, who wore No. 71 the last time he played for the Coyotes, is wearing No. 29.; Viktor Tikhonov, who wore No. 41 the last time he played for the Coyotes, is wearing No. 26.

• The Coyotes will again practice/scrimmage on Sunday starting at 9 a.m. Fans are invited to attend free of charge. Fans should enter through Gate 3. Click here to see the training camp roster/schedule.
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