Skip to content

Is the hockey world wrong about Mike Smith?

Nov 3, 2011, 12:43 AM EDT

mikesmithap AP

Call it the Dave Tippett Effect if you want, but Mike Smith is putting together one of the quietest hot streaks in the NHL. The Phoenix Coyotes’ risky (but frugal) off-season pickup stopped 39 out of 40 shots against the Colorado Avalanche to notch his third win in a row.

Smith has been pretty much lights-out since allowing six goals against the San Jose Sharks to start the season (and even that game wasn’t really all his fault). He’s 5-2-2 overall with solid individual numbers, but his most recent games have been especially impressive:

Oct. 25: 34 out of 36 saves (OT loss to Dallas)
Oct. 27: 31 out of 34 saves (win vs. New Jersey)
Oct. 29: 37 out of 39 saves (win vs. Los Angeles)
Nov. 2: 39 out of 40 saves (win vs. Colorado)
Total: 141 out of 149 saves, 3-0-1 record.

Going into the season, I was concerned that a Coyotes defense that allowed the third-most shots in the NHL in 2010-11 would be exposed with a lesser goalie in net. These early results show that context matters, though; the Coyotes are currently tied for last place in shots allowed per game with the suffocating Nashville Predators but hinder opposing offenses anyway.

This start can be explained by some combination of three factors: a) it’s just a small sample size, b) Tippett’s system likely focuses on allowing a lot of shots but curbs quality chances and c) Smith is making as much of a difference as Bryzgalov did. Considering how much less Smith costs, option “C” must really make Don Maloney smile.

However you slice it, all that Smith and the Coyotes care about is producing yet another successful season against steep odds. Then again, betting against Tippett & Co. might be the foolish gamble instead.

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 3, 2011 at 2:11 AM

    3 games is a pretty lousy sample size. Give him at least half a year, then we can pass some judgements

  2. sunking1 - Nov 3, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    I thought Smitty was, for the most part, a OK goalie in Tampa. Where he got into trouble was whenever he roamed behind the goal and tried to stickhandle the puck. It felt like every fifth attempt he would botch a pass attempt and lay the puck on the oppositions stick with Smitty scrambling back to defend a WIDE OPEN goal. You see that a few times and the team loses confidence in you. And then he would lose confidence in himself.

    Bad goals kill every team. Good goalies minimize those opportunities.

  3. cshearing - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    He was considered the next big thing in Dallas when he first came up. There were grumblings of trading Turco much earlier due to his initial play. The trade to Tampa seemed to affect him negatively, so maybe this fresh start is what he needed, especially on a team with such low expectations overall. Hopefully he can keep it going.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kane (1711)
  2. P. Kessel (1473)
  3. M. Richards (1238)
  4. P. Datsyuk (1080)
  5. N. Backstrom (1049)