Coyotes' Travis Boyd grabs opportunity, rises from regular scratch to top line center

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Nov 24, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Coyotes center Travis Boyd (72) celebrates after scoring a goal during the third period against the Edmonton Oilers at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 24, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Coyotes center Travis Boyd (72) celebrates after scoring a goal during the third period against the Edmonton Oilers at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of this month, Travis Boyd wasn't in uniform, in the midst of a four-game stint as a healthy scratch for the Coyotes.

It clearly did not get the 28-year-old well-traveled center down. When he was needed again in the lineup, Boyd returned on Nov. 6 after being scratched for six of the seven previous games and scored a goal in the Coyotes' 5-4 win over Seattle, their first win of the season.

The second-period goal set the stage for a comeback from two goals down to the expansion Kraken.

Boyd has five points in the nine consecutive games he's played this month, and on Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings, had a goal and assist. Then on Wednesday, he scored his fourth goal of the season against Edmonton.

Offense isn't the only thing Coyotes head coach André Tourigny is seeing out of Boyd, who is playing for this fourth team since the last game of the 2019-2020 season.

Tourigny told a story of a friend who played in the NHL and is now retired, who said he never enjoyed a single day of his time in the league. Every day was a fight to keep his spot on the roster, to try to be in the lineup, and there was always uncertainty about playing on the third line, the fourth line, being scratched, being sent to the minors, or more fates.

"The guys, they know it's a privilege, and they know that everybody in the AHL wants to steal the job of those guys," Tourigny said, then motioned to the Coyotes locker room. "Those guys in the room over there, they want to stay there. You need to keep your job and you need to be the best in the world at it. If not, someone else is dreaming and striving to take your job."

Those things could have applied to Boyd. Injuries forced the Coyotes to bring up players from the minors, adding to the challenge for him to play well enough to get back into and stay in the lineup.

"You need to be comfortable and uncomfortable, because it's a fight every day, it's a grind.. And 'Boydie' was in that grind. And I think he embraced it and when he had his chance, he really made the best out of it," Tourigny said. "He's playing really well, both sides of the puck. Not just offensively, OK he has numbers, that's pretty good for him, but he takes as much pride in his defensive game."

In a recent discussion with Boyd, Tourigny told him he needed to define for himself why the Coyotes absolutely need him, that he needed to be better at some area of the game than everyone else.

Boyd, Tourigny said, told the coach he can be a better two-way player than most. Boyd is giving the Coyotes that, Tourigny said.

"He has a good read down low. He's not the biggest to create a stop, but he's really good at reading and sniffing a loose puck and recovering a loose puck and supporting the first guy to apply pressure. He reads his assignment really well," Tourigny said.

Boyd said injuries and players in COVID protocol — one center, Johan Larsson, practiced Friday and is set to return along with forward Andrew Ladd — helped him get more of an opportunity.

In training camp, Boyd said he wanted to prove he can play all 82 games in a season, not having come close to that in his time in the NHL. Eighty-two games won't happen this season, but Boyd is up to 13 games with 53 his season high.

"Just playing with confidence. That's kind of the thing. When you start playing with confidence, and then confidence breeds more confidence and then, yeah, things are going pretty well right now," Boyd said. "That just goes to having some good chemistry with the guys I've been playing with recently... and not being afraid to go out there and make those plays and try to create offense."

Up next

The Coyotes (4-14-2) host the Dallas Stars Saturday night at Gila River Arena, Arizona's seventh divisional game of the season out of 21. The Coyotes had earned at least a point from four straight games until their loss to Edmonton on Wednesday. ...The Stars are coming off the first game of a back-to-back, having played the Colorado Avalanche at home Friday. ... The teams meet for the first time since Feb. 19, 2020, and Dallas comes into Saturday's game having earned wins in 11 of the last 12 games against Arizona going back to the 2015-16 season. .... The Stars have wins in four of their last five games at Gila River Arena.

Get in touch with Jose Romero at Jose.Romero@gannett.com. Find him on Twitter at @RomeroJoseM.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Coyotes' Travis Boyd has goals in past two games

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