By Dave Vest LOS ANGELES – The Coyotes will open their 2009-10 season on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
The Coyotes have won four of their past five season openers.
Head Coach Dave Tippett will make his regular-season debut behind the Phoenix bench. Tippett replaced Wayne Gretzky on Sept 24.
“When you don’t make the playoffs it’s a long off-season” Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle said. “We’ve all been working hard over the summer and can’t wait to get the season going. Tippett’s great. He’s an awesome coach. It already feels like he’s been here for five or 10 years. We’re all buying into his system because he knows what he’s talking about.”
Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to start in goal for the Coyotes, who won their final preseason game via shutout on Sept. 26 against the San Jose Sharks in Tippett’s only appearance behind the bench to date.
Veteran center Robert Lang, whom the Coyotes signed just this week, is expected to play on a line with wingers Shane Doan and Mikkel Boedker. Doan, who led the Coyotes with 73 points last season, had just one point in five preseason games.
Saturday’s game also is the season opener for the Kings, who are hoping that off-season acquisitions Rob Scuderi and Ryan Smyth will help them end a lengthy playoff drought. Center Anze Kopitar, who had a team-high 66 points last season, is back in the fold.
After the opener, Phoenix will play at Pittsburgh on Wednesday and at Buffalo on Thursday before its home opener on Oct. 10 vs. Columbus.
Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who won a gold medal in the off-season playing for Russia at the IIHF World Championship, made 27 saves in his last outing, a 2-0 victory over San Jose on Sept. 26 in the preseason finale.
Kings forward Ryan Smyth notched two goals and two assists in the last preseason game for Los Angeles on Sept. 27 against Anaheim. The Kings acquired Smyth from Colorado in exchange for two players in a trade on July 3.
• Coyotes captain Shane Doan needs one point to give him 624 for his career, which would move him past Keith Tkachuk and into sole possession of third place on the franchise’s all-time points list.