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Lawson Crouse’s consistent presence a blessing for the Coyotes

Arizona Coyotes' Lawson Crouse, right, and Calgary Flames' Oliver Kylington, of Sweden, scramble for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Calgary, Alberta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

Plagued by injury this season, nobody has embodied the “next man up” mentality adopted by the Arizona Coyotes this season quite like Lawson Crouse.

The left winger netted his ninth goal of the season on Thursday in a 3-2 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks and logged more than 15 minutes of TOI for the third time in the Coyotes last four games.

While his nine goals and 18 points overall are both career highs, Crouse’s value has come as a stabilizing presence and an enforcer as a regular in the Coyotes line up.

After appearing in just 11 games last season, the 11th overall pick in the 2015 Draft has started 60 of Arizona’s 61 games and leads the team with 200 hits and 60 penalty minutes.

His five roughing penalties this season rank tied for 13th in the NHL and he ranks No. 8 in the league in hits. He is one of five Coyotes that has a positive +/- rating on the season at +3.

For a team that has been battered with injuries and that ranks first in the NHL in penalty kill percentage, Crouse’s intimidating presence makes up for his short comings.

At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Crouse is the tallest and heaviest non-goalie on Arizona’s roster.

Throwing his body around provides protection and opens things up for smaller players like Clayton Keller, Vinnie Hinostroza and Conor Garland who all have more goals than Crouse, but are easy targets standing 5-foot-10 or shorter.

His goal against the Canucks was necessary as Vancouver would comeback to tie the game before it was settled in overtime.

If Crouse can continue to plant himself in front of the net offensively, plant his opponents into the boards defensively and stay healthy, he will have value as a consistent member and one of the Coyotes top 12 forwards.

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