Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett made a bold — and successful — lineup decision on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, making Mike Ribeiro a healthy scratch for what proved to be a crucial 3-2 win.
Now, Tippett might do it again tonight against New Jersey:
It certainly looks like Phoenix coach Dave Tippett is scratching Mike Ribeiro and Derek Morris for a second straight game.
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) March 27, 2014
This is a noteworthy development, given 1) Ribeiro leads all Coyotes forwards in assists this season, with 30, and is arguably their top setup man; 2) He’s in the first of a lucrative four-year, $22 million deal; 3) Part of the reason Ribeiro signed in Phoenix was to reunite with Tippett, as the pair had great success and chemistry together in Dallas.
“I think that was my No. 1 goal,” Ribeiro said at the time. “To go somewhere knowing the coach and knowing a little bit of what they were looking for and what my role was going to be and being comfortable, and being able to communicate with the coach.
“[Tippet’s] done a great job there in Phoenix. He knows what he can get from me and I know what he wants and I’m ready to work for that.”
All that said, Ribeiro has been slumping lately, scoring just two points in nine games prior to the Pittsburgh benching.
He was especially poor in recent losses to Boston and New York, going a combined minus-4 while being on the ice for two goals — including Ryan McDonagh’s OT winner — against the Rangers on Monday.