PHOENIX - Thursday, October 3, 2013: At 7 p.m., the Coyotes open play for the first time in four years with an ownership group in place. After struggling through four NHL seasons without an owner, the Coyotes finally have some stability at Jobing.com Arena.
Just before the ownership group was introduced this past summer, the Coyotes re-signed General Manager Don Maloney, Head Coach Dave Tippett and goalie Mike Smith. Expect that ownership stability to contribute to success on the ice as well as in ticket sales and sponsorships.
The Last Time: The last time these two teams met was January 10, 2012 at Madison Square Garden. The game went to a shootout before the Rangers won in the sixth round. Coyotes goalie Mike Smith came up with a big save in overtime, stopping a Marian Gaborik shot that would have won it earlier for New York.
Rangers New Coach: Alain Vigneault takes over in New York after spending seven seasons as the head coach for the Vancouver Canucks. In a strange twist of NHL irony, the guy he’s replacing in New York, John Tortorella, is replacing Vigneault in Vancouver.
Coyotes: The Coyotes have consistently struggled with the power play, finishing 25th in the league last season and 29th in 2011-12. But the addition of Mike Ribeiro should help spark some improvement. According to G.M. Don Maloney, the Coyotes will continue to look for players who can help the team score both within the organization and outside the franchise.
Rangers: Derek Stepan agreed to a two-year contract just last Thursday, so the Rangers center will be on the ice against the Coyotes. Stepan will center the Rangers front line along with Brad Richards and Rick Nash.
Coyotes: Forward Paul Bissonnette will miss the first of three games after being suspended for leaving the bench during the Rusty Klesla hit against the Kings in the team’s first preseason game. Defenseman Rusty Klesla (concussion) is out indefinitely after taking a hit from Kings forward Jordan Nolan in the preseason.
Rule Changes: The most significant rule change this season will be a new hybrid-icing rule. The NHL announced Monday that it will use hybrid-icing rules during the 2013-14 season in an attempt to further protect its players. The object is to reduce the risk for potentially damaging collisions into the end walls as players race for the puck.
The hybrid-icing rule allows the linesman to blow the play dead and call an automatic icing if he determines the puck will cross the goal line and the defending player is not behind in the race to the end-zone faceoff dots in his defensive zone. The faceoff will go to the far end of the ice as it did with icings called in the previous system.
The league had been using the previous “touch-icing” system since 1937.
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