The Phoenix Coyotes may have an edge against other NHL teams when their lockout-shortened season begins on Saturday against the Stars in Dallas.
The Coyotes will return the majority of last year’s Pacific Division championship club and both captain Shane Doan and head coach Dave Tippett believe familiarity and continuity will help them deal with the stresses of fewer practices and a 48-game season.
“We’re fortunate in the fact that we only have three or four new guys coming into our lineup and because of that we can kind of continue the same parameters that we’ve played with in the playoffs last year,” Doan told Arizona Sports 620’s Game On Show Tuesday. “Obviously we need guys to step up and play even bigger.”
Doan has nothing but praise for two young talents he believes will continue to progress and flourish in 2013.
“You look at a guy like Mikkel Boedker who I think is on the verge of becoming an elite offensive player and (Oliver) Ekman-Larsson, who is, just, he is just amazing to me. I get so excited about watching him develop,” Doan said. “We’re going to be able to play the same system and hopefully those two and a couple other guys are going to be able to advance their game and be even more successful.”
Tippett also believes the return of many familiar faces will allow him to continue to implement the system that worked so fluidly for the Coyotes during their playoff run last season.
“We’re not putting anything new in right now,” Tippett said. “It’s all a lot of review and when you’re doing that I hope that will sink in a lot quicker and our guys will jump in that first game and we’ll have a real good idea how we want to play system wise and structure wise.”
Tippett praised his team’s depth but stressed the importance of getting the feel for different forecheck sets.
The Coyotes’ coach said he’ll decide on how much practice certain players need based on the number of minutes they’ve played the game before. Tippett said he’ll be creative in finding ways to keep his players sharp and ready to go.
“We’ve created an energy around that when you come here you know you’re going to have to put the work in and it won’t be easy, but we’ll find a way to get the job done,” Tippett said.
The importance of having the support of a locker room will be paramount following a long layoff and Doan said the players are 100% percent behind Tippett and his game plan.
“[Tippett] is just so well-respected in our room and so good that he can make the decision that he thinks is right and we’ll follow it and that’s hard to get to and we’re fortunate we have it,” Doan said.