Coming into the season, it was clear that one of the most important things that the Phoenix Coyotes needed in order to rebound from a down year was for Radim Vrbata to make a comeback after a season that saw uncharacteristically low production from the veteran forward.
Vrbata’s overall numbers for the 2013 season were not impressive, at least in the goal scoring department. His overall point production is fine, but on a Coyotes team that needs all of the offense that they can get, a dozen goals from Vrbata wasn’t enough.
He did finish the season on a high note, as he notched four goals in his final five games of the regular season last year. Three of those came in the season finale. On Thursday night, Vrbata picked up right where he left off, bookending the summer with another hat trick.
The Coyotes looked fantastic in their Opening Night win over the New York Rangers on Thursday night. A big part of their success was the play of Vrbata. He’s their key goal scorer, and when he’s on his game, he can put the puck in the net with the best of them in the league.
Now obviously Vrbata’s .750 shooting percentage that he emerged from Thursday with is not sustainable. He’s not going to score three goals per game, or even a goal per game. But what the Coyotes need from him is to continue scoring at the rate that they’ve come to expect from him.
Though they’ve made some improvements to their roster, in the offensive end, Vrbata is still the key to their offense. If he can continue to be the offensive star that he’s been since joining the Coyotes. If he can get back on a 25-30 goal scoring pace, the Coyotes will be much better off in their pursuit of a playoff spot.