COYOTES (0-0-0) vs. BRUINS (0-0-0)
TV: VERSUS (HD), TSN (HD)
Season series: It is the opener for both teams.
Big Story -- Both teams are eager to see where they stand after surprising ends for each last season. Phoenix confounded the experts by finishing fourth in the Western Conference and amassing 107 points, but was bounced in the first round by a battle-tested Detroit squad. Boston, meanwhile, had trouble scoring goals all season and then flamed out spectacularly in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they gave away a 3-0 series to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Coyotes -- Phoenix believes it is ready for the regular season after a severe test in Wednesday's preseason game against KHL club Dinamo Riga in Latvia. The Latvian power gave Phoenix all it could handle and had the advantages of both a rabid home crowd and a larger ice surface working in its favor, yet Phoenix found a way to win, 3-1. It was a confidence booster that told the Coyotes players they are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.
"We're ready," forward Petr Prucha told NHL.com. "Very ready."
Bruins -- Boston can't wait to get things rolling. They have been on the road for nine days now and still have two more days in Prague before they can even think about returning home.
The Bruins scored seven goals in their last preseason game. And, even though it was against a Czech elite club, Liberec, coach Claude Julien believes his players are feeling their oats when it comes to creating offense.
He will find out Saturday night.
"The guys are ready to play," forward Blake Wheeler told NHL.com. "It's been a whirlwind with everything else that has gone on the past week or so, but now we are ready to play and get the season started
Who's Hot -- For Boston, the newly signed Patrice Bergeron -- he inked a three-year deal Friday -- had 5 points Tuesday against Liberec, scoring a pair of pretty breakaway goals. Rookie Tyler Seguin, who likely will make his NHL debut Saturday, has 3 goals in two European preseason games. … In the Coyotes' game Wednesday against Dinamo Riga, Prucha was the driving force, scoring the winning goal and playing a dominant game. Plus, the grinding line of Vernon Fiddler, Taylor Pyatt and Lee Stempniak scored a pair of goals, added production that only can bode well for a team that is looking for more offense.
Injury Report -- Coyotes forward Ray Whitney and defenseman Derek Morris have been dealing with lingering lower-body injuries since arriving in Europe. Whitney skated full-out in practice Friday, but Morris did not take the ice. Both, though, are expected to play. … Boston is without top center Marc Savard, who did not make the trip as he deals with post-concussion symptoms.
Stat Pack -- Bruins played just five preseason games against NHL competition, managing just 11 goals in going 1-3-1. Boston coach Claude Julien said his staff has made some tweaks to get the team going offensively -- including a plan to generate more speed in the neutral zone -- and club has responded with 12 goals in two games against European competition. … Shane Doan has been Phoenix's strongest player in the preseason, netting 3 goals and an assist in three games. He will play on a line with newcomer Eric Belanger. Kyle Turris was one of three Coyotes to manage 2 goals in preseason action, but he'll likely sit out Saturday's opener.
Puck Drop -- To say the Coyotes and Bruins are champing at the bit to get the regular season started would be an understatement. Boston has spent nine days in Europe and Phoenix arrived Monday. Both are sick of practicing and talking about what lies ahead. They get the chance Saturday to play for real and they are ready to embrace that opportunity.
"These are very important points," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett told NHL.com. "Every year, you look at coming down to the last weeks of the season, points are so valuable. You can't look back and say, 'Oh, that was a fun vacation we had in Prague, but we left four points there.' Our players recognize that and they know how important these points are."