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by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
A day after the big change behind the bench, new Head Coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes practiced Friday morning in preparation for the final preseason game on Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks.

Tippett and his staff staged a 90-minute workout on a sheet at the Desert Schools Coyotes Center in Peoria.

“We have to have a solid commitment away from the puck and today was (about) a lot of defensive concepts,” Tippett said regarding the focus of the workout. “All the drills today were based on what you’re doing with the puck when you have it, but also when you don’t have it how do you get it back and how do you defend your net. It was very competitive… I thought the guys were very solid in all the zones, and we have to continue to push that as we move forward.”

Twenty-two of the 24 players on the roster were at the workout. Forward Taylor Pyatt (lower body injury) and defenseman Ed Jovanovski (groin injury) sat out.

Forward Scottie Upshall said Tippett’s practices are structured well.

“You can definitely tell Dave has been around the league for many years,” Upshall said. “He runs a very controlled practice. Every drill we do is done with purpose, and there’s nothing done out there just to kill time.”

Tippett’s practices stress repetition and creating good habits.

“It’s doing the same things over and over so that it becomes second nature,” captain Shane Doan said. “…We want to get everyone doing the same thing all the time and on the same page.”

After the on-ice workout, Tippett spoke to reporters. Here are some highlights from his Q & A session:

Q: What is your mind-set heading into your first game with the team on Saturday night? What will you be focused on watching?

A: “It’s a unique situation for me,” Tippett said. “It’s my first game and I’ll be trying to get to know the new faces and new players. There will be a little bit of tinkering trying to find players for certain roles. I have a pretty good idea of where I think people fit, but game situations bring the best out of that.”

Q: Will you be using Peter Mueller at center or on a wing?

A: “I envision him on a wing right now,” Tippett said. “He’s an interesting player. He has great skill and had a very good rookie campaign. Last year, I don’t think it went as well as he would have liked. But he’s a player that if he can commit to doing things with and without the puck, he can be a very good player for us. There’s still some learning curve that he has to go through. I see flashes of a very good player and I see flashes of an average player. We think he has the potential to be a very good player. It’s a matter of him being a very good player all the time.”

Q: Do you like to keep forward lines together long-term or do you like to change them from game to game?

A: “Some of it depends on who you are playing and the matchups you’re looking for,” Tippett said. “I like to have pairs where players work together as a pair and you can filter (third) guys in and out. The way the league works right now with injury factors, it’s hard to keep lines together all the time. If somebody can really find some chemistry, that’s the best thing. If they’ve got chemistry and they’re going, leave them together. The same with defensive pairs.”

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