With Key Players Out, the Phoenix Coyotes Benefit from a Strong Bench

Mark BrownContributor IDecember 13, 2013

Mikkel Boedker (r) celebrates his two-goal game with Mike Ribeiro (63).
Mikkel Boedker (r) celebrates his two-goal game with Mike Ribeiro (63).Norm Hall/Getty Images


All good teams need troops in reserve and, in recent weeks, the Phoenix Coyotes demonstrated this requirement for success.

Coming into Thursday’s home game with the New York Islanders, the Coyotes had four regulars out of the lineup and a fifth, defenseman Zbynek Michalek, skated in only his second straight game. That was after Michalek missed nine consecutive games with an injury.

The Coyotes’ 6-3 win over the Islanders served as a testament to both their resiliency and production. In the victory, Rob Klinkhammer and Mikkel Boedker scored twice, picked up the baton and supported the theory that teamwork triumphs.

With captain Shane Doan out indefinitely with an undisclosed illness, forward Lauri Korpikoski missing his 10th straight game and defenseman Derek Morris out for his third consecutive game and eight of his last 15 encounters, the Coyotes demonstrated the importance of players responding in near-crisis situations.

“With key guys out, everyone stepped forward and chipped in,” said center Mike Ribeiro, who contributed with his second three-point game of the season. “Plus, we’re playing the way we should play. We’re showing that everyone can score and make a contribution.”

Boedker was one player waiting to break out.

Coming into the Islanders game, the 23-year-old native of Brondby, Denmark pumped in seven goals on the season, all on the road. On Thursday, he scored his first two at home and had his first two-goal game since March 12, 2013 against the Kings. It was the third time in his career that he scored twice in one game.

“It’s nice to finally score at home but it’s important to keep it up,” Boedker said. “Scoring on the road is okay but scoring at home brings up your confidence. With Doan and [Korpikoski] out, everyone needs to score and after all, you can’t score if you don’t shoot.”

With key forwards and defenseman missing from the lineup, coach Dave Tippett juggled pairings.

Here, Boedker was one of the main beneficiaries.

A left-handed shot and natural left winger, Tippett moved Boedker to right wing on a line with center Antoine Vermette and Kyle Chipchura on the left wing.

The result was the two-goal effort against the Islanders and three points in his last two games.

Tippett also placed Tim Kennedy on left wing with Martin Hanzal at center and Radim Vrbata on the right wing. Ribeiro now centers between Klickhammer and David Moss while veteran Jeff Halpern centers a fourth line between Paul Bissonnette on the left side and rookie Jordan Szwarz on the right wide.

“Every one guy here feels a responsibility,” Tippett said after the Islanders game. “Everyone has to chip in and there are ways to do that. Just because you don’t see a player’s name on the scoresheet doesn’t mean they’re not contributing.”


Mark Brown is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.