By: Chad Lynch
After over a year off from professional hockey, goaltender Curtis Joseph is extremely anxious to return to make his return to the NHL nets in Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings at Glendale Arena.
It will also mark the first time that Joseph has faced someone other than a teammate since joining the Coyotes.
"After missing a year you need to get yourself back in the nets and experience a game situation," said Joseph. "It is a lot different than practice and you need those types of situations that arise from games to get your timing back and to be sharp."
While Joseph has amassed an impressive NHL career and played on some of the worlds biggest stages including the Olympic Games, he admitted that he will be a little nervous as he wears the Coyotes' sweater for the first time.
"Anytime you play, you are going to be a little nervous and Tuesday will be no different for me," said Joseph. "But I know that once the puck drop and the game gets underway I will settle down and be fine."
Joseph is also likely to be the club's starting netminder when they open the regular season on October 5, 2005 in Vancouver.
"Barring any unforeseen circumstances it looks like Curtis will be the starting goaltender on opening night," said head coach Wayne Gretzky.
AND GOALIE MAKES THREE
With Boucher on the shelf, the Coyotes are planning on starting the season with three goaltenders as David LeNeveu will begin the season in Phoenix.
"Based on his play and his experience, we will start with Curtis (Joseph) as our goaltender," said Gretzky. "But David has played very well and earned the right to begin the season here."
After suffering a groin injury on Friday night, Brian Boucher was back at the Glendale Arena on Sunday, walking softly and looking forward to rejoining his teammates on the ice.
Boucher's goaltending partner, Curtis Joseph, knows first hand what his partner is going through and sympathizes.
"I think every goaltender has tweaked their groin at some point," said Joseph. "Hopefully you can get it back to as strong as it was before and while it is definitely not a fun thing for a goalie to go through, he has been able to walk around and I think he'll be alright."
No immediate timetable has been placed on Boucher's return. He is currently listed as day-to-day.
FIRST OF TEN
Following their two game series with the Minnesota Wild to open the 2005 preseason, the Phoenix Coyotes are now focusing on their next game against inner division rival, the Kings. Tuesday's contest will mark the first of 10 meetings this season (two preseason, eight regular season) between the two clubs. And while a heated rivalry is expected at some point this season; right now the Coyotes are more concerned with perfecting their own game.
"With the way the league is set-up these days and the travel that is involved, it just works out that most of your preseason games are against the teams in your own division," said Shane Doan. "But at this point, I'm not too worried about them (Los Angeles). I'm more concerned with getting my timing down and making sure I am doing the things I need to do to help the team win."
In their first two games of the preseason, the Coyotes have allowed six power play goals, including four in last Saturday's contest in Minnesota. Gretzky knows that the club is going to have to cut down on the infractions to be successful.
"The other night (Saturday), we got ourselves into a position where we were playing most of the third period a man down and a number of five-on-three situations," said Gretzky. "That is certainly an area of our game we will look to improve on Tuesday night."
ROOKIES SHOW PROMISE
The bright spot in last Saturday's game in Minnesota was that a lot of the rookies in camp were given extra minutes of ice time and for Keith Ballard and Matt Jones, that translates into another chance to shine on Tuesday.
"Both Ballard and Jones had really good efforts last Saturday," said Gretzky. "They both played with an edge and showed that they have bright futures in this game so we are going to let them both play again on Tuesday night.
Following Sunday's practice, Gretzky announced the line-up for Tuesday night's game. The following players will are scheduled to take the ice for the Coyotes.
Curtis Joseph and David LeNeveu
Ladislav Nagy, Petr Nedved, Brett Hull, Mike Leclerc, Mike Rupp, Shane Doan, Oleg Saprykin, Krystofer Kolanos, Mike Johnson, Tyson Nash, Mike Ricci and Boyd Devereaux.
Denis Gauthier, Derek Morris, David Tanabe, Sean O'Donnell, Matt Jones and Keith Ballard.