After weeks of training camp and a six-game exhibition slate, the Ducks open the gates to their 2019-20 regular season tonight against the Arizona Coyotes at Honda Center. (7 p.m. PT, TV: Prime Ticket, Radio: AM 830). It'll be a night full of festivities, beginning with an orange carpet arrival at 3:30 p.m. on Honda Center's south side in front of the TCL Entrance. [More details on Opening Night here].
This is just the sixth time in franchise history the Ducks have opened their season at home. They've won their last two season openers, including a 5-2 victory on this day last year at San Jose and a 5-4 win on Oct. 5, 2017 vs. Arizona on home ice. Tonight will also mark the season debut for Dallas Eakins, who became head coach of the Ducks on June 17.
"I'm excited to play games you're actually going to get points for, but in the same breath, I'm eerily calm," Eakins said to reporters. "Just excited to get the season going. I think we're ready for the marathon that it is."
The marathon Eakins references is an 82-game schedule that begins tonight and concludes April 4 at San Jose. A work ethic has been instilled, and a tone has been set. "We're going to be relentless in every aspect of our game," defenseman Korbinian Holzer said. "This team will never quit, I can guarantee that. We're going to go out and work hard. Everybody is going to work their tails off like we do in practice. We have a good mix of speed and skill."
Practice sessions under Eakins' watch have been brisk. They've been tough. But, they've also been fun. "Just look at how upbeat our practices are," defenseman Michael Del Zotto said. "Guys are working their tails off, but they're also enjoying it and having fun out there. That's a recipe for success when you're holding each other accountable, you're working hard but also enjoying every day, too."
The proof will be in the pudding, as the Ducks open a busy month of October that sees them play 14 games, including two separate four-game road trips. Tonight's matchup opens a brief two-game home set that concludes Saturday against the Sharks. This also begins a four-game season series against the Coyotes that continues Nov. 27 and Jan. 2 at Gila River Arena, and Jan. 29 at Honda Center. The Ducks have gone 75-37-21 all-time against the Coyotes, including a 41-16-10 mark at Honda Center. They've earned points in seven of their last nine against the Coyotes (5-2-2) dating to Oct. 5, 2017. Ryan Getzlaf leads Ducks skaters in career scoring vs. Arizona with 64 points (19g/45a) in 69 games.
Yesterday, the captain shared his thoughts on the new season. "We're excited right now," he said. "Every year is different. Every year we go in with the same goal. There's nothing about this year that's going to change for us from a mindset's standpoint. We're going into this year expecting to compete. We're looking forward to getting going [tonight]. We have a lot of new looks around here. A lot of new thing going on in the organization from top to bottom. It's been a very exciting training camp for us, and we're excited to get going."