Before the start of the 2013-14 season, Coyotes captain Shane Doan mentioned other than ownership taking control of the franchise, the most important acquisition for the team on the ice is center Mike Ribeiro.
“If you made a list for the whole summer, they one guy we needed the most out of all the free agents and you put a list out, he would have been the number one guy,” Doan stated before the start of the season.
With the Coyotes now 6-2-2 in the first month of the season, a large part of their success of late has been the play of Ribeiro, who is riding a seven game point streak and has scored two goals in each of the last two games. Both being wins for the Coyotes.
“We actually had to get him away from the stigma of ‘you’re the guy now,’” said Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett. “We don’t win with just one guy, we win with everybody. He didn’t have the responsibility of being that kind of a guy and I didn’t want him to have the responsibly of being an individual. So, we did some things to make sure we look like a team.”
Ribeiro started slow for Phoenix. He did not register one point through the first three games of the season. But getting more acclimated with his shifts as well as doing less thinking on the ice has allowed him to be the guy without thinking that he needed to be.
“We have been playing together for a few games now,” said Ribeiro. “The same lines, and we kind of know what we are supposed to do and I guess we are more comfortable together.”
“(In) the last few games we have been able to find each other and he is a guy who is always going to find you if you are open, and so you just kind of have to get there,” mentioned Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle. “He does a good job of getting open and showing you that he wants the puck. He is a fun guy to play with.”
On the ice, the biggest need for the Coyotes after the disappointing end to last season, was a consistent goal scorer. Though Radim Vrbata, who scored his 200th career goal of his career Tuesday night against the Flames, had been carrying the load the last couple of seasons, there needed to be another threat in front of the net.
The Coyotes hoped Ribeiro would in-fact be that guy for them, and it is starting to come to fruition.
“He is just a skilled guy, he finds opportunity,” mentioned Tippett. “That’s what skilled players do; they find ways to have effects on the games offensively. The thing I like about him right now, he’s getting some points, he’s getting some goals, but he thinks the game. He does the right things, protecting the lead. There are things he is doing that make him a real smart, complete player. And he still does that in his own element.”
“I mean everyone is good, it is really how you show up that night and play against those teams, but you can win and lose any night against anyone,” explained Ribeiro. “So, it is really how you prepare yourself and how confident your team is. Really playing simple and backing each other up, and you need your goalie to make big saves.”