October 15 will truly be a night Mikkel Boedker will remember forever. As the Arizona Coyotes trounced the Edmonton Oilers 7-4 Wednesday night in Glendale, Arizona, Boedker netted three goals en route to his first career hat-trick. As Boedker’s hot streak continues and Mike Smith’s struggles continue, it is plausible to assume that the key to the playoffs this season may in fact be held by the new face of scoring in the desert, Mikkel Boedker.
With Radim Vrbata’s departure, a major scoring void was needed to be filled if the Coyotes had any shot at making the playoffs this season. And although Boedker was able to register the same point total as Vrbata did last season (51), with as many new faces coming to the Desert Dogs this season, the top-line winger would need to raise his point total even higher to offset Vrbata’s big departure.
Boedker’s torrid pace clearly will not continue forever, which he eluded to in last night’s post game with the comment, “It’s going to even out eventually… Right now, that’s the way it’s going and it’s a good feeling.”
However, with five goals in just three games this season, it would appear that he is well on his way to a 30-plus goal season. Since the 2009-10 season, only one player has been able to score more than 30 goals in a single season (Radim Vrbata, 36, 2011-12). That season, the Coyotes won a franchise-first Pacific Division title and reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time in their history.
The Arizona Coyotes success lies and will always lie within their ability to score by committee while playing solid defense in front of an even more solid net-minder. But as this short season has shown Arizona fans so far, especially in Wednesday night’s game, when the defense falters, one player will need to step up big and put the puck in back of the net, and that is where Boedker comes in.
Mikkel Boedker, who is just 25-years-old, has steadily improved his point total since the 2008-09 season. His breakout performance first came during the shortened season of 2012-13. That season, he was able to nab 26 points in 48 games. Last season, he followed that breakout year by upping his .54 points per game (PPG) to .62 PPG. As Boedker continues to grow and mature even more this season, there is no reason to believe that he couldn’t blossom into the caliber of player not seen in the desert in quite some time.
A true scorer, or scorers, hasn’t been seen on a Coyotes roster since the 2011-12 season, where Ray Whitney tallied 70-plus points and Radim Vrbata netted 30-plus goals. So as Boedker becomes more and more the Radim Vrbata of that season to remember, one more player will also have to become that season’s Ray Whitney. But that will be discussed in the next installment of the Desert Dog Times.
Mike Smith and the Coyotes defense will surely improve and that obviously will help ensure a “white out” returns to Glendale this season. However, it is with Mikkel Boedker that the true key to the postseason lies. So, for now, sit back and enjoy the Mikkel Boedker show. It is certainly just the beginning.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer Covering the Arizona Coyotes