CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 10: Taylor Pyatt #14 of the Phoenix Coyotes controls the puck in front of Duncan Keith #2 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on November 10 2010 in Chicago Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
As the 2010-11 Phoenix Coyotes season has progressed, a number of story lines have developed. The continuing ownership saga, Keith Yandle becoming a bona fide NHL star and Norris trophy candidate, the steady leadership of Shane Doan, and Lauri Korpikoski's emergence as an offensive weapon have all been covered to one degree or another by the local and national hockey media. The one story getting lost in the mix is that of Taylor Pyatt.
While youngsters like Kyle Turris, Mikkal Boedker, and even Brett MacLean get more love from the media and fans and other players such as Robert Lang, Petteri Nokelainen, and Petr Prucha have come and gone, Pyatt has quietly carved out a place for himself in ‘The Pack'.
Much like former 1st round draft pick and teammate Lauri Korpikoski, the eighth overall pick in the 1999 entry draft appears to be coming into his own under the tutelage of the Coyotes coaching staff. Pyatt has always shown the ability to adapt to new linemates having played anywhere from the 4th line in Phoenix to the 1st line in Vancouver. The difference this season appears to be his renewed confidence in his play and his shot.
The forward has played much of the season on a line with fellow veterans Vernon Fiddler and Lee Stempniak. As the season has progressed Fiddler and Stempniak have shown faith in him by looking to pass to him when he's been in prime scoring positions. Pyatt has been consistently driving to the net and has been rewarded. The line's stellar play has resulted in Taylor receiving an increase in ice time both at even strength and short-handed. While Coach Dave Tippett usually rolls four lines as part of his system, Pyatts's line has been the one Coach Tippet has turned to most often to shut down other team's best players. The forward's ability to play physical while not taking an excessive amount of penalties is crucial for his line and the team's success.
The forward from Thunder Bay, Ontario is 3rd on the team and tied for 64th in the entire NHL with a plus/minus rating of plus-12. He's also in the top 10 on the Coyotes in a number of categories including GVT. For a player who is tied for third on the team with 17 goals and currently ranks 1st on the team and ties for 6th in the league with 6 game winning goals to not get the acclaim that other players on the team receive is a shame. His style of play may not be as scintillating as a Radim Vrbata or Keith Yandle, but so far this season it has been every bit as effective.