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Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 1:49 AM
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Phoenix Coyotes vs. San Jose Sharks

The Skinny
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By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will begin their 2011-12 season on Saturday with a game against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. (AZ time).

Goalie Mike Smith will make his debut with the Coyotes. Smith signed with Phoenix as an unrestricted free agent on July 1 to replace Ilya Bryzgalov, who was traded to Philadelphia in the off-season. Smith stopped 65 of 70 shots in the preseason and is ready to play.

“I think everyone is looking forward to getting the season started,” Smith said. “Camp isn’t as long as it used to be but it still seems to drag on forever. Guys are really looking forward to getting the first game underway.”

Other newcomers Daymond Langkow, Raffi Torres and Boyd Gordon also will be in the lineup for the Coyotes, who are looking to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a third consecutive season.

Martin Hanzal
Coyotes center Martin Hanzal, who signed a five-year contract extension on Thursday, will make his debut as an alternate captain tonight.

"It's a great honor, especially on a team that has Shane Doan as captain," Hanzal said. "He's a great captain and I'm really looking forward to being his assistant captain. I will definitely keep playing the way I have been all these years, but with the "A" comes more responsibility. I will be a good example for the younger guys and everyone else because that is what assistant captains do."

Phoenix has won five consecutive season openers, but Head Coach Dave Tippett knows Saturday’s game will be a tough one.

“They are a solid team right throughout (the lineup),” Tippett said. “If you don’t play at your top level you’re going to be behind the game, so that will be our top goal.”

Coyotes captain Shane Doan also is expecting a tough game from the Sharks, who have a few newcomers of their own to break in – including defenseman Brent Burns and forward Michal Handzus.

“They get after the puck hard, and they have a really good coach (Todd McClellan) over there and he does a good job of preparing them to start,” Doan said. “They usually come out guns blazing off the hop and you’ve got to be ready for that first push, especially if its their home opener.”

Thomas Greiss will start in goal for the Sharks, who have won the Pacific Division title four straight seasons. Antti Niemi, the team's No. 1 goaltender, is nursing a nagging knee injury.

"We're just not satisfied going to the Western Conference finals two years in a row," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "Our standards have always been high ever since I've been here. We want to get to the Cup final and win the Stanley Cup for the Bay Area. We're focused and we're ready to go."

Forward Martin Havlat will not make his Sharks debut tonight reportedly because of a torn labrum he suffered during the IIHF World Championship in May.

Who's Hot
Coyotes captain Shane Doan enters the season needing just four goals to reach 300 goals in his NHL career.
Sharks captain Joe Thornton has four goals and seven assists in an eight-game point streak against the Coyotes.
Did You Know?
  • Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesla became a father for the first time this week when his son Rostislav Jr. was born.

  • The Coyotes have lost five games in a row at HP Pavilion.

  • Tonight's game will be aired on Fox Sports Arizona. Click here for channel information. Tonight's game also will be on XTRA Sports 910 (AM). A link to the radio broadcast will be provided at at 7:30 p.m.

  Martin Havlat
  Antti Niemi
  Antero Niittymaki
  None reported
2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 29 '12 SJS 0 at PHX 2 R. Vrbata
Mar 24 '12 PHX 3 at SJS 4 - SO M. Handzus
Mar 10 '12 SJS 0 at PHX 3 M. Boedker
Feb 04 '12 SJS 3 at PHX 5 L. Korpikoski
Nov 12 '11 PHX 3 at SJS 0 R. Vrbata
Oct 08 '11 PHX 3 at SJS 6 A. Desjardins is the official Web site of the Arizona Coyotes. The Arizona Coyotes and are trademarks of IceArizona Hockey Co LP. NHL, NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL Logos and marks NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 2015 The Arizona Coyotes and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | AdChoices | Contact us | Site Map