For the longest time this season, Arizona Coyotes rookie Tobias Rieder had trouble finding his scoring touch.
A few weeks back I took a look at what I thought was missing from Tobias Rieder’s game and explained that his shooting percentage was way too low, and if he was able to get it higher he could become a very solid player. Well now he has done just that with four goals and five points in his last nine games, which leads the team in the month of March.
On Saturday Rieder scored his 12th goal of the season, which is the most by a Coyotes rookie since Mikkel Boedker had 11 in 2008. It also came shorthanded and was his third such goal of the season, which ranks second in the NHL behind only Brandon Sutter, Rick Nash and Tyler Toffoli.
After Saturday’s loss against Pittsburgh, Coyotes head Coach Dave Tippet praised Rieder’s ability on the penalty kill.
“[I see] speed and smarts, he recognizes situations and when he can take advantage of people,” Tippett said.
“He’s a good player, we would never discourage somebody from trying to score. Some players have that mentality more than others and he has that mentality,” Tippett said.
Rieder is also coming off a game in which he saw a career high in ice time against Los Angeles earlier this month, with 22 minutes. In that game he saw minutes in all three situations.
“In all situations he’s a good NHL player,” Tippett said.
Rieder also takes pride in his penalty killing ability,
“If teams are on the power play they try not to defend as hard as they usually do, so I try to take advantage of that and if I see a chance I try to create something, but if not I try to play well in my own zone,” Rieder said.
Mar 21, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes center Tobias Rieder (8) checks Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ian Cole (28) during the second period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Tobias Rieder’s hard work has paid off immensely as over his last ten games he has a shooting percentage of over 16 percent, which isn’t sustainable long term. It certainly balances out his bad luck he has had for most of the season. Since my last article on Tobias Reider, he has raised his personal shooting percentage to 7.3 percent. That’s still below league average, but certainly more palatable.
At the end of the season the Coyotes will hand out their annual awards and there are two that Tobias Rieder could be in contention to win. First, I think it’s almost a lock for Rieder to win the Jukka Nieminen Memorial Trophy, which is named after the team’s former physical therapist who passed away several years ago. It is given to the team’s hardest working player.
For the past few season this has been a fan voted category and I think fans know how much Rieder means to the team. They know that for many games this season he has been the best player on the ice, and it’s because he is fun to watch — thanks to his work ethic.
The other award I think Tobias Rieder should receive some consideration for is the Calder Trophy…..
The award he could be a dark horse for though is Team MVP, as suggested by Zachary Isaacs on Twitter
The award is definitely Ekman-Larsson’s to lose but Rieder shouldn’t be overlooked.
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