The 2013 season was the first one that could be considered a failure for the Phoenix Coyotes under head coach Dave Tippett. A club notorious for starting slow was never able to gain their footing during the shortened season and missed out on the playoffs for the first time since Tippett took over behind the bench.
Part of the reason they struggled throughout the season was their lack of consistency in the offensive end. And perhaps the largest reason for their lack of consistency on the offensive end was a lack of consistency, and a lack of health, from Radim Vrbata.
On a Coyotes team that doesn’t exactly have a wealth of offensive weapons, Vrbata is a guy they rely on to lead the way. That didn’t happen in 2013, for a variety of reasons. He was limited to only 34 games on the season, and the offensive consistency didn’t appear, in terms of his goal scoring.
Vrbata did finish with a respectable point total of 28 points in those 34 games. But for a guy who was a large source of goal scoring, things didn’t come together. He had only a dozen goals on the year, coming off of a season in which he had notched a career high, with 35.
If Vrbata ends up on a unit next to the likes of Mike Ribeiro, the Coyotes’ prize of the summer, then his goal scoring should go right back up. Ribeiro is a creative center and among the game’s best playmakers. Another 30-goal campaign could easily be in reach.
Regardless of the situation, whether it’s Ribeiro or Antoine Vermette, Vrbata should be back in top form for 2013-14. He had the summer to get healthy after Phoenix missed out on the playoffs, and should be able to recover from a down year to become a primary goal scoring threat for this club once again.