Coyotes winger Ray Whitney
on Saturday matched his point total from last season by scoring a nifty goal against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place.
With 20 games to go in the regular season, Whitney needs just 18 more points to reach 1,000 for his NHL career.
“I'm pushing for it,” Whitney told reporters with a smile after Saturday’s game, which Phoenix won, 3-1, to up its record to 10-0-1 in February. “If it doesn't happen, I hope there's no lockout (next year).”
Whitney leads the Coyotes with 57 points - 18 goals and a team-high 39 assists. He also notched 57 points in his first year with the Coyotes a year ago, but he was playing with an injured hand and that limited his production.
"I played a month and half at the start (of the season) after surgery on my hand and struggled,” Whitney said. “I had trouble handling the puck.”
Whitney has had no trouble handling the puck this season – just watch the goal he scored on Saturday as proof.
“I was going north and he (Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk) was going south,” Whitney said. “... That's not a good combination when you're both going at one another and he has to put his brakes on. I just caught him flat-footed. I was fortunate.”
• Click here
to watch Whitney’s goal.
Whitney ranks seventh in the NHL in plus/minus (+24), 10th in assists (39) and 20th in points (57). He also ranks second in a recent Sports Illustrated poll of the NHL’s nicest players (behind Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk).
|Photo by Getty Images. |
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett is a fan.
"He's smart, in great condition and the best thing is he's still got the passion to play,” Tippett said. “Some players lose it earlier, but he's having fun and he's still a top player in the league. We're lucky to have him on our team.”
Whitney will turn 40 years old in May. Staying in shape, he says, has been the key to his longevity.
"I really don't get out of shape,” Whitney said. “I only take four or five days off when the season ends and start training again. If you lose it at my age, it won't come back.
He added: "I'd like to think I can go another two or three years, as long as the legs are there. I don't want to be a burden on anybody. I don't want my wife and kids in the crowd and having to hear, 'Why doesn't that old goat retire?' As long as I don't put them in that situation, or my team, I'll continue to play.”