The Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes are ready to start their first game of the season. Even though this game takes place in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, this game is just like any other away game. The facilities are very much like the NHL’s facilities. In the arena, it’s just like any other road game for the teams.
But if you think the players are not on edge, think again. This is like the first day of school. Players are excited, nervous and jittery that the first day of the season has finally arrived…
Phoenix was the first to hit the ice at 8:30 a.m. this morning in Prague (2:30 a.m. EDT, 11:30 p.m. PST Friday). Even though a few players stated they had some trouble sleeping last night, all of them were out on the ice, nervous, excited and ready to start the season.
“I think both teams will be very disciplined teams,” coach Dave Tippett said after the skate. “Obviously, we have two teams that were in the top five goals against, teams that are part of the identity of their group. [Boston] blends well. We recognize that about them. We want to be that kind of team also.
“It probably will be a tight game. That’s what we’ve talked to our players about. Be ready for a tight, hard fought game. Whether it was last year or not, I don’t think the identity of teams have changed. I’m fully expecting it to be that way this year.”
Shane Doan is entering his seventh season as captain of the Coyotes. He will turn 34 years old on Sunday when the second game of the NHL Prague premiere takes place.
“He’s been top notch,” Tippett said of Doan. “He’s at the top of his game. He’s excited to get going. I think last year ended disappointingly for him with the injury in the playoffs. Shane had a decent year, not a great year offensively. We talked about getting better as a group. He recognizes that he has to lead that way.”
Tuukka Rask is expected to get the nod in goal tonight for the Bruins. He’s been very solid in net during the practices in Prague these past few days.
One of the newest guys on the block for the Bruins is Nathan Horton. He was acquired by the Bruins on June 22, 2010 along with Gregory Campbell. Adjusting to a new team helps when everyone is thrown into an exhibition series overseas. It allows the team to bond more as a family.
“This is for real,” Nathan Horton said about the first game of the season starting today. “I think for me and everyone else in here, I think we’re all excited. Everyone’s happy. Everyone’s ready to go.”
“I probably would be lying if I said I didn’t,” Horton said about having pre-game jitters. “Obviously, I’m going to be nervous a little bit like everyone else. Once the game starts, it’s going to be fine. I’m just more excited and just ready to get things under way and get the first game win.”
“It’s been a lot of fun hanging out with the guys,” he said of bonding with his teammates. “It’s been a lot of fun getting to know everyone. I think we’re so much of a team. We’re like a family. It’s nice. Everyone hangs out. You get to know a lot about a guy.”
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said of the adjustment to the new team. “It helped me a lot. It made me feel more comfortable. I feel great right now. The guys couldn’t be any better.”
Tonight, David Krejci will be centering both Horton and Milan Lucic. Since Krejci is the only Czech on the Bruins, all eyes will be on his line and under the biggest scrutiny in the Czech Republic. It will also be one of the lines that will be receiving the loudest cheer from fans.
“For me, to play with them on the same line is an honor,” Horton said.
“We’ve had a lot of moments,” he said of the experience in Prague. “It’s been a lot of fun, but tonight is going to be the best. Everyone is ready. I’m excited already this morning.”
Game time is 6:00 p.m. (in Prague). Back in the States, the game starts at 12 p.m. EDT and 9:00 a.m. PST.