Sunday, January 20, 2013
Vrbata fine without Whitney?
By Luke Lapinski
The Phoenix Coyotes had plenty of success last season, much of which was predicated on strong goaltending and defensive play. But they also got a career year out of forward Radim Vrbata, who erupted for 35 goals and 27 assists.
Vrbata has now had his four highest scoring totals in his four years in the desert. But last year was different. Skating on a line with Martin Hanzal and Ray Whitney, the 31-year old winger really found his groove. In fact, there were stretches midway through the season where he led the entire Western Conference in goals scored.
Whitney has since left for Dallas, however, leaving some to wonder how Vrbata will respond on the stat sheet this season. If last night is any indication, he should be just fine. Phoenix brought in Steve Sullivan over the summer to fill the void left behind by Whitney's departure, and the line looked strong again on Saturday. Vrbata, in particular, cashed in with two goals and an assist. Included in those totals were two power play points -- an area the Coyotes are intent on improving as a team this year.