Coyotes' Radim Vrbata stays humble despite success

Posted: February 18, 2012 at 9:30 am

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by Jim Gintonio - Feb. 17, 2012 05:38 PM
The Arizona Republic

Use a superlative or point out that his statistics mark him as elite player merely generates a shoulder shrug from Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata. On the verge of setting career highs in goals and points, he also leads the NHL with 19 road goals and is second with nine game winners.

He's a player who rarely gives himself enough credit, as evidenced by how he put his goals in perspective.

A game-winning goal, he said, is a nice stat, "but other guys would be scoring, too, so your goal is the winning one." As for the 19 tallies on the road: "This stat means I don't score too much at home probably," he said with a laugh. "I should pick it up at home. It's a good stat for you, but for us, you try to help any way you can, so that's what I'm focusing on."

Vrbata has tied his career high with 27 goals and is nine points short of breaking his personal best (56).

Coach Dave Tippett, who is preparing his team to face the Dallas Stars on Saturday after an emotional win in Los Angeles on Thursday night, isn't surprised that Vrbata, whose power-play goal helped trigger the 1-0 win over the Kings, shies from the spotlight.

"That's who he is, and that's what makes him a great person and a great player, and he fits very well with our team," Tippett said. "He's concerned about how our group does, not how he does personally. He's been a great fit for us here. It's not just his play, he's a quiet leader in that dressing room and very well respected."

Tippett said Vrbata's season has been "phenomenal," but he goes about it in such a quiet way that it can go unnoticed.

"He's been a go-to guy for us," Tippett said. "I think the two stats that stick out the most are nine game-winning goals and 19 goals on the road. You look at what happens, a lot of times on the road those guys are getting the hardest checkers, and that line of (Martin) Hanzal, (Ray) Whitney, Vrbata -- teams are watching them pretty close."

After a somewhat slow start this season, Vrbata turned things around but said he does not try to find an explanation.

"I just want to go with it," he said. "I try to prepare the same, try to play the same. When you're not scoring it's frustrating. I think (the) first nine games I only had one goal; I don't think my game was too bad.

"As long as you're getting chances, a few will eventually go in, so playing on a line with Marty, who I played with the whole four years I was here, and now second year in row we played with Whits, so ... lots of credit to them. I don't think about it too much. You just want to play."

Injury update

Defenseman Rusty Klesla and forward Taylor Pyatt (upper-body injuries) and defenseman Derek Morris (illness) are listed day to day.

Defenseman David Schlemko, who underwent foot surgery, has been skating and could return before the end of the season.

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Coyotes' Radim Vrbata stays humble despite success

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February 18th, 2012 at 9:30 am

Posted in Personal Success