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'Yotes Notes: Tocchet Eager to Start Preseason Games

Arizona will play the first of six exhibition games on Wednesday at Anaheim

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE -- The Coyotes will play the first of six preseason games on Wednesday night at Anaheim, and Head Coach Rick Tocchet is eager to get behind Arizona's bench and watch the 20 players he selects to play the Ducks start a new era.

"We have to be a competitive team," Tocchet said. "I don't care if it's an exhibition game, a practice, a regular-season game or the first game of the playoffs. The intensity, the work ethic, and our concepts can't be compromised around here. We're starting new. There's a clean slate for everybody. The work ethic on Wednesday night, I want to see that. Regardless if we win or lose, I want to see the competitiveness of a Coyotes team. As much as I know it's only an exhibition game, it does start the identity of our team. What is our identity? It starts on Wednesday."

Forty-eight players remain in training camp. Here's Arizona's 20-man roster for Wednesday night's game:

FORWARDS: Michael Bunting, Max Domi, Christian Dvorak, Emerson Etem, Christian Fischer, Clayton Keller, Mario Kempe, Michael Latta, Jens Looke, Lane Pederson, Brendan Perlini, Dylan Strome.

DEFENSEMEN: Adam Clendening, Kevin Connauton, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Dakota Mermis, Luke Schenn, Kyle Wood.

GOALIES: Louis Domingue, Hunter Miska

"Camp is good, but practice gets pretty repetitive after a while so it will be nice to get into a good game," forward Brendan Perlini said. "I'm looking forward to it."

Louis Domingue is expected to start in goal vs. the Ducks and play half of the game. Hunter Miska is scheduled to relieve Domingue midway through the second period, regardless of the score.

Tocchet said he would keep the team's approach to the game simple. 

"For me, an exhibition game is about putting guys in certain situations and making them succeed," Tocchet said. "There's not a ton of system stuff where I'm going to try to throw too much at them. We'll give them the basics, but to me it's let the players play."

Prospect Clayton Keller is penciled in to start at right wing on a line with center Christian Dvorak and Perlini.

"It should be a lot of fun," Keller said. "There's a lot of great players in the lineup, and it's going to be good for me to play with Christian Dvorak again since we played together a couple months ago (for Team USA). I think it will be really good to play with him again and get our chemistry back."

• Defenseman Jason Demers skated at the Ice Den in Scottsdale on Tuesday, a day off for the rest of the team.

The Coyotes acquired Demers from Florida in exchange for forward Jamie McGinn on Sunday. Demers arrived in Arizona on Monday and chose to skip the day off and skate with Tucson Roadrunners Assistant Coach Mike Van Ryn. 

"We had a good skate today," Demers said. "We worked on some things, so it was nice. I just kind of wanted to get that plane ride out of my legs."

Demers said he was shocked the Panthers dealt him to another team after signing him to five-year contract just last summer.

"It was a big surprise to me, but I have shifted my mentality and I'm happy to be here in a place that wants me," Demers said.  "...I'm ready to go and I can't wait for tomorrow to meet all of the guys and skate with them."

Video: Demers' 1st Interview as a Coyote

• General Manager John Chayka said trading McGinn creates opportunity for a young left wing already in the organization.

"We think we can (replace McGinn) internally," Chayka said. "We've got guys that have stepped up here early in camp. There's still a big group of good, young, talented players on the wings, and that's how we're going to go with things moving forward."

• Chayka said don't be surprised to see Clayton Keller, a center, at right wing in some of the exhibition games.

"We think he's pretty comfortable in that position," Chayka said. "He could do both (wings). It comes down to what the player is comfortable with, too. There's a large group of very talented wingers (in the NHL) that play their off-side and have a lot of success ... One his role models, Patrick Kane, is able to do it pretty good."

• Forward Anthony Duclair is looking to rebound from a five-goal season in 2016-17 after a 20-goal season the year before.

"I just want to work hard with whoever I'm playing with, and I want to make sure that we're going right from the start, right from the preseason," said Duclair, who signed a one-year contract just a few weeks ago. "That's got to start in practice, trying to find chemistry and stuff like that. It's a big year on a personal level, but at the same time as a team. We want to improve from last year. Obviously that was a disaster. Our goal is definitely to make the playoffs this year."

Video: Duclair Speaks after 1st Practice

• Forwards Brad Richardson and Tobias Rieder have been practicing full throttle with teammates after recovering from lower-body injuries. Richardson suffered broken leg bones in a game early last season and Rieder injured a foot at the IIHF World Championship in May. 

"One thing I've noticed about those guys is they're pushing the pace," Tocchet said. "I see 'Rieds' always leading the pack (on laps), and when I have a drill, 'Richie' is not afraid to be the first guy. Being that first guy sometimes with a new coach, new drills, you can screw up, it happens. But he's willing to take on 'Let me go first, I'll do it' (mentality)."

Video: Rieder on Health, Goals for 2017-18

• Former Coyotes center Jeremy Roenick, a Valley resident, stopped by a recent training camp practice to wish Tocchet well in his new endeavor as head coach.

"He texted me and wanted to bring his skates," Tocchet said with a smile. "I said, 'Don't bring them.'"

Tocchet and Roenick played together for the Coyotes in the team's early years in Phoenix and later with the Philadelphia Flyers. 

"He's a terrific friend," Tocchet said. "He lives here so he wants to see the Coyotes do well. He's rooting for everybody here. It's nice to see him around. He's always smiling, so it's great to see J.R. I love the guy."




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