By Kyle Shohara
After a long summer and a week of training camp, the Ducks finally open the preseason tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes at Honda Center.
Players went through their usual game-day drills in preparation for a Coyotes squad that won both split-squad preseason games against the Los Angeles Kings last night.
“I’m excited,” said Stefan Noesen, who is expected to make his Ducks debut tonight. “I just want to give it my all and put in a good effort.” Noesen appeared in both SoCal Hockey Futures Games against the Kings last week, and participated in rookie camp and the main Ducks training camp.
Needless to say, Noesen is ready for some real game action. “It’s for sure going to be faster,” he said. “That rookie game was pretty quick, but I’m looking to just give it my all, my best effort, and [be] a physical presence out there.”
Teemu Selanne, no stranger to preseason games, said he’s looking forward to tonight. “It’s fun to get back into the action,” the 43-year-old said. “This is the time to push and get back into game shape. That’s why these games are very important. So far, so good. We have a good group here, and a lot of players. It’s fun.”
His linemate Jakob Silfverberg is also expected to be in tonight’s lineup, giving Ducks fans their first opportunity to see him and Selanne on a line together outside of training camp. “Everything takes time,” Selanne said, on building chemistry. “As much as we play together and practice together, we’re going to find each other better and better.”
Selanne said preseason games are critical for preparing himself for the rigors of the regular season. “It doesn’t matter how much you practice or do off-ice training. Playing games, that’s how you get into game mode,” he said. “It’s important to push yourself back to the normal level. And you want to stay healthy, too. The hip flexors, the groins, and the glutes get tight when you skate a lot and you work hard, so you have to be smart. It’s an interesting time.”
Adds Selanne, “It’s fun to see all the guys back. We have some unfinished business here. It’s good to get back to work.”
NOTE: Ducks players not in tonight's lineup will be working in various locations throughout Honda Center, including concession stands.
On the preseason
“I think the guys are tired of playing against themselves. To get into a real game is probably what everyone is looking forward to.”
On if he’ll split time between tonight’s goaltenders (Jonas Hiller and Frederik Andersen)
“I don’t know if it’s going to be two periods, one period, or 30-30. Most likely, it’ll be two periods and one period.”
On what he wants to see in tonight’s game
“We want to see the speed we play at. We want to see our compete level. It’s important we grow from Day 1. We want to be good and we want to be able to grow from that.”
On how he approaches preseason games from a coach’s standpoint
“It’s also training camp for us. We haven’t coached in a while. There are things we want to do. If there’s anything usually different, at least in the first two periods, it's rolling the lines a little bit more. You don’t want anyone to have to play 23 minutes, 24 minutes. Looking at their lineup last night, there’s an awful lot of guys we don’t know, and vice versa.”