The decision was always his.

Whether or not Coyotes winger Mikkel Boedker wanted to be a core player rather than an accessory depended on his attitude and his play because, with a shallow reserve of skill and finesse, the Coyotes would undoubtedly be pushing heavy minutes and power play opportunities his way.

So, Boedker played in Europe during the lockout. He arrived in the Valley for this abbreviated season in prime condition.

And he continues to deliver an appropriate encore to his playoff heroics as his two-goal effort Tuesday against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings guided the Coyotes to a 5-2 win in front of 15,075 at Jobing.com Arena.

“Last year in the playoffs I think he kind of realized he could be a premier offensive player, and he’s starting to every night be that,” captain Shane Doan said. “He’s such a respectful, gentle guy off the ice and when you start to get a little bit of that arrogance and pride and expecting that this is your team, then you start to see that on the ice and he’s moving into that and that’s great for us. That makes us that much better.”

The Kings were completing second half of a back-to-back Tuesday, and the Coyotes – who had two days off since they last played – capitalized on that advantageous twist of the schedule, scoring first at 9:25 of the first period. Winger Raffi Torres fed Boedker, who kicked the puck up to his stick, skated into the slot and wired a wrist shot past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.

Later in the period, captain Shane Doan redirected a slap-pass from defenseman Derek Morris at 16:47 for his team-leading ninth goal.

“He saw me coming out of the corner,” Doan said. “When Mo gets the puck, he always picks his head up. He’s always looking. It’s one of those things you want to try to get to the net when he has it. All our
D-men are good at it, but Mo’s one of those guys that really looks for you.”

Doan has now scored in three straight games, giving further proof to the theory he’s a better second-half performer.

But with winger Radim Vrbata’s timeline for recovery from a cracked bone in his left foot unclear, that’s perfectly fine with the Coyotes.

What’s also encouraging is Boedker’s progression. After an impactful postseason in which he scored four goals – two of which were overtime winners in Round 1 against the Chicago Blackhawks – Boedker has developed into a legit top-six forward and he’s working himself toward a favorable contract as he’s a restricted free agent at season’s end.