May 8, 2012, 2:29 PM EDT
Now this is how you pump a goalie’s tires.
Pekka Rinne — Nashville’s Vezina-nominated, $49-million man — spent a good chunk of his post-elimination presser talking up the guy that out-dueled him over the five-game series, Phoenix’s Mike Smith.
“Their goalie was unreal,” Rinne told Fox Sports Arizona. “He was the difference in this series.”
Smith’s performance in the series including a 168-minute, 45-second shutout streak that covered parts of three games. All told, the 30-year-old stopped 150 of 159 shots against Nashville (a .943 save percentage) and allowed just four goals over the course of Games 3, 4 and 5.
“Smitty was unbelievable in the net,” Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata said. “It was a big effort by everybody, but Smitty was a huge part of it.”
Smith has been huge throughout the playoffs. He leads the league in shots faced (400) despite playing over 90 minutes less than Braden Holtby, No. 2 on the list. He’s also making a strong case to become just the third goalie to win the Conn Smythe since the lockout, though Phoenix would have to be in the Cup final for him to merit consideration.
Of course, Phoenix in the Cup final is now a totally reasonable scenario.
“In the playoffs, you need great goaltending — it just goes without saying,” said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett. “If you have great goaltending, you’ve got a chance every night.”
- Playoffs Tonight: Kings look for ‘killer instinct’ against Sharks 9
- Brother says Patrick Roy will be Avs’ head coach 17
- Video: Controversy colors Blackhawks goal, disallowed score 55
- Discuss: Detroit takes 2-1 series lead vs. Chicago 88
- Video: Viktor Stalberg returns after head-first sprawl into boards 2
- Brown, Toews, Alfredsson up for Messier Leadership Award 9
- Playoffs Tonight: Blackhawks look to ‘ramp up our intensity’ vs Red Wings 13
- Report: Patrick Roy a candidate for Avalanche head coaching job 9
- Senators’ OT hero Greening had fiberglass pieces removed from face 4
- Discuss: Senators win Game 3 in double overtime 36
- Alex ‘they wanted Game 7′ Ovechkin to address media today before heading to Worlds (110)
- Question for commenters: What’s the hardest team to support? (95)
- Video: Crosby scores hat trick, hits playoff milestone against Senators (91)
- Discuss: Detroit takes 2-1 series lead vs. Chicago (88)
- Bryzgalov thinks Stalin did a good job, wishes Philadelphia wasn’t so old, and believes poor people don’t want to work (80)
- Durant pledges $1 million for tornado victims
- Golden Super Bowl to Bay Area; LI to Houston
- PBT: Grizzlies aim to stem Spurs' momentum
- CSN: Tiger admits he and Sergio don't get along
- HBT: Yankees buying share of expansion MLS team
- PHT: Kings searching for killer instinct in Game 4
- PFT: Romo out of OTAs after back surgery
- Play Video: Highlights: Red Wings top Blackhawks in Game 3
- Play Video: Cleary: 'We won't be exchanging Christmas cards'
- Play Video: 'Hawks potential tying goal waved off
- Play Video: Blackhawks score on controversial play
- Play Video: Blackhawks bring the pain
- Play Video: Red Wings and BlackHawks fighting for control