As hard as it is to believe, we’re now less than three weeks away from the start of another season of NHL hockey.
We made it, folks! Another long and hot Arizona summer has come and gone, and it’s time once again for the Arizona Coyotes to hit the ice.
With that said, and with single-game tickets now available, let’s pinpoint a few games that stand out more than others on Arizona’s 2019-20 schedule:
The Home Opener
Saturday, Oct. 5 vs Boston Bruins
Following their season-opener on Thursday, Oct. 3 at The Pond against the Anaheim Ducks, the Coyotes will return to Glendale for their home opener against the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins on Saturday, Oct. 5.
The home opener is always a joyous event at Gila River Arena – after a long summer away, the fans finally get the chance to once again return to the rink and cheer on the boys in the black Kachinas.
Additionally, the Coyotes will have a chance to start the season off on the right foot with a win over the Bruins, which is something that has eluded the franchise for most of this decade.
Arizona’s last win over the Bruins came on Oct. 9, 2010, in a game played in the Czech Republic. Since then, the Coyotes are 0-13-1 against Boston and have been outscored 55-19 over that span.
If the Coyotes can break this streak during the home opener in front of a sellout crowd, it could set them up to have a solid month of October.
Thursday, Nov. 21 vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Not only are the Toronto Maple Leafs expected to be one of the league’s best teams again this season, but this home game on Nov. 21 will also be the only chance of the season for Coyotes fans to see Scottsdale native Auston Matthews play in his home state.
Matthews, who grew up a Coyotes fan, always seems to kick his game into the next gear while playing in the Valley of the Sun – he’s skated in three games at Gila River Arena since entering the league in 2016, and he’s recorded a goal, an assist, and nine shots on goal over that span. Matthews and the Maple Leafs have also won two of those three contests, outscoring Arizona 11-7 in the process.
If you can’t make it to this game, don’t you worry – you can just wait until 2024, when Matthews will become an unrestricted free agent and will most certainly return home to the Coyotes.
Just kidding, Toronto! Sort of.
Tippett’s Return to Arizona
Sunday, Nov. 24 vs Edmonton Oilers
It’s always exciting to watch Edmonton Oilers’ superstar Connor McDavid play live and in person, but this game likely will have an added significance for Oilers’ head coach Dave Tippett.
Tippett spent eight seasons behind the bench in Arizona from 2009 to 2017, compiling a 282-257-83 record in the regular season to go with a 12-15 playoff record as the Coyotes’ bench boss.
Tippett was the head coach during arguably the franchise’s best three-year run since moving to Phoenix – the Coyotes compiled a 135-78-33 record from 2009 to 2012, and made it all the way to the Western Conference Final in 2012, which remains the only postseason run in franchise history, as the Coyotes were bounced in the first round of all of their previous playoff appearances.
The fans haven’t forgotten the impact Tippett had on this franchise during its years of NHL ownership and turmoil. Expect a warm welcome for Tippett from the Arizona faithful in this one, as well as a nice tribute video from the team.
Viva Las Vegas
Saturday, Dec. 28 at Vegas Golden Knights
What’s better than a Saturday night out in Vegas?
A Saturday night out in Vegas that starts with NHL hockey, of course.
That’s how many Arizonans likely will spend the last Saturday night of 2019, when the Coyotes will make their second visit of the season to Sin City to take on the Vegas Golden Knights. It’s a short four-hour drive from Phoenix to the lights of Las Vegas, so there undoubtedly will be a large Arizona presence inside T-Mobile Arena for this matchup between these two divisional and regional rivals.
It has been some time since Arizona’s last weekend game in Vegas. The Coyotes played road games at T-Mobile Arena on a Tuesday and a Thursday last season – quite a bummer, since being in Vegas during the week just isn’t the same.
Time to use those credit card miles you accrued this year, get yourself a room on the Strip for the weekend, and get ready to watch some hockey!
Ringing in the New Year
Tuesday, Dec. 31 vs St. Louis Blues
Another one for the party crowd!
Just days after a Saturday night affair in Sin City, the Coyotes will host the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues at Gila River Arena on New Year’s Eve.
With puck drop scheduled for 7:00 P.M., fans will be able to enjoy one of the premier home games of the season before stepping outside to enjoy the nightlife of the Westgate Entertainment District with plenty of time to party until midnight.
Is there a game we missed that you think should have been included here? Let us know in the comments!
A lifelong Phoenix resident, Louis has been following hockey since 2010, has covered the Arizona Coyotes since 2015, and has been playing hockey since 2020. So far, Louis has visited eight NHL cities, and one of his personal goals is to eventually make it to all 31 NHL arenas. For any questions or concerns, contact the writer via Twitter @LouisPannone.