When the Capitals went on a season saving 15-2-2 run last year to earn a sixth straight Stanley Cup Playoff appearance, Mike Ribeiro was among the club’s most potent weapons. Ribeiro was a fixture among Washington’s top six forwards and finished with an NHL-high 27 power play points during the 48 game campaign.
Ribeiro’s successful year in Washington earned him a four-year, $22 million deal from the Phoenix Coyotes last July. He was brought to the desert with the hope that he could help the Coyotes return to the postseason after Phoenix finished in 10th place in the Western Conference last season.
Nearly nine months later, the Coyotes hold the second wild card position in the Western Conference, three points clear of the Dallas Stars who hold one game in hand. But as the Coyotes conclude a three-game Eastern road trip tonight against the New Jersey Devils, Ribeiro will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game.
"We're trying to win right, so it's less about who's not in and more about who's in," Phoenix Coach Dave Tippett told reporters at the Coyotes’ morning skate Thursday in Newark. "We're trying to play a certain way, a competitive way, and we've got to come back with another good effort like we did the other night," when the Coyotes beat Pittsburgh 3-2.
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Ribeiro was a healthy scratch in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, and has struggled since the NHL returned from the Olympic break in late February. The 34-year-old, who made a habit of talking back to officials last season with the Capitals, picked up a two-minute unsportsmanlike penalty and a ten-minute game misconduct during the second period of a 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 28. Ribeiro was eligible to return for the third period, but Tippett kept Ribeiro on the bench.
“We have to have everybody on the same page,” Tippett said after the 4-2 loss to Colorado. “Our margin for error is very slim. Mistakes cost us."
For the season, Ribeiro has 15 goals and 45 points in 72 games, but is last among Coyotes forwards with a minus-12 rating. More recently, Ribeiro has one goal and one assist in his last nine games and a minus-7 rating over that stretch.
As Ribeiro sits as a healthy scratch for a second straight game, former Capitals Martin Erat and Jeff Halpern will skate together on the Coyotes’ third line alongside David Moss.