By Dave Vest
After an extraordinary and often frustrating off-season for the franchise and its fans, the Coyotes are pulling out all the stops for their first home game of the 2009-10 season on Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena.
To celebrate the franchise’s continued existence in Phoenix/Glendale, the team is hosting a Welcome Back Whiteout. The game, which begins at 6 p.m., is sold out.
“The fan response to the Welcome Back Whiteout offer has been tremendous and we’d like to thank everyone for their support,” Coyotes President Doug Moss said.
The players are looking forward to the playoff-like atmosphere.
“Every athlete has an ego and it’s great for us to have a full building and have people around watching you and cheering for you,” said captain Shane Doan
, who is celebrating his 33rd birthday on Saturday. “… It creates a great energy.”
The Coyotes will be pitted against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Both teams have started the season by winning two of their first three games.
will start in goal for the Coyotes, who will be looking to rebound from a tough 2-1 defeat at Buffalo on Thursday night.
Late penalties hurt the Coyotes vs. Buffalo. Head Coach Dave Tippett, who will be making his home debut tonight, wants his players to recognize the fine line between aggressive play and undisciplined play.
“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot and it caught up with us,” Tippett said. “… Sometimes players get emotional and they get caught up in the emotion. It’s a skill to make sure you have control of those emotions, so we need to work on that skill.”
The Blue Jackets also lost on Thursday - 6-3 at the San Jose Sharks. Goalie Steve Mason, who won the Calder Trophy last season, was pulled early in the third period after giving up five goals on 20 shots. Backup Mathieu Garon is expected to start vs. the Coyotes.