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Can Mike Smith repeat his incredible year?

Jul 21, 2012, 2:19 PM EDT

Mike Smith Getty Images

Perhaps the biggest reason why the Coyotes landed in the Western Conference finals this past season was goalie Mike Smith. Smith’s acrobatic saves, curious ability to draw penalties, and dogged work helped buoy Phoenix even when teams turned up the pressure late in games.

While he was stellar in the playoffs, he was arguably the team MVP all season long. Smith racked up stats unlike the kind he’s put up throughout his career. His .930 save percentage was by far the best he’s put up and was tied for third-best in the NHL with Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist. His 2.21 goals against average was a career-best as well.

Of course, the biggest question facing Smith now is: Can he do it again? Many point to his success in Phoenix thanks to being both taught by goalie coach Sean Burke and being a part of coach Dave Tippett’s system.

While Tippett does have a defensive scheme in place, Jonathan Willis of The Cult Of Hockey says Tippett’s influence is a bit overstated. Goalie analysis blog Brodeur Is A Fraud (a divisive and awesome name, by the way) says Smith’s 2011-12 season is not likely to be repeated and a regression is likely. Good goalie? Yes. Consistently great goalie? Perhaps not.

That said, Smith’s defensive corps in front of him next season is set to be really good, and really deep. Thinking he’ll return to the kinds of numbers he put up in Tampa Bay that saw him wind up playing behind Dan Ellis would be a mistake.

  1. theawesomersfranchise - Jul 21, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Smith always had talent, and he’s just huge in the net, after being dumped by a second NHL team I think his maturity kicked in and he became a professional. And then he walks into a excellent system with a very good goalie coach like Burke who was a big goalie himself and it was the perfect storm. So as long as Smith keep doing what he’s been doing and Tippett keeps doing what he’s doing, we should expect more of the same.

    • dsd3 - Jul 21, 2012 at 6:43 PM

      His maturity kicked in? Where was that maturity when he tried to slash Mike Richards after the LA Kings’ series-winning goal? Or when he approached a ref in a threatening manner after the game?

      • theawesomersfranchise - Jul 21, 2012 at 6:55 PM

        Tried to….?
        Threatening manner….?
        He’s invested emotionally into the game?
        Have you ever played hockey?

      • theawesomersfranchise - Jul 21, 2012 at 7:05 PM

        I mean the two things you just described that happened during a play-off series, doesn’t even crack Mark Messier’s or Gordie Howe’s top 250 nasty things done on the ice.

        Were they immature as well?
        Tried…to slash….another hockey player….hell change that to tried and succeeded and I still couldn’t care less.

      • wisbadgers - Jul 21, 2012 at 7:08 PM

        Hell….even I tried to slash Richards and Brown after that bull****.

      • claysbar - Jul 21, 2012 at 7:57 PM

        You ever wanna see a goalie that you don’t wanna mess with, Google Tom Barrasso. Mike Smith is a Saint compared to him.

      • dsd3 - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:18 PM

        Yes I have played hockey. He was acting like an immature idiot. Someday he’ll start getting called for penalties once his reputation grows. He’s a diver and has tried to hurt other players by slashing them after a play.

  2. jhuck92 - Jul 21, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    I think his “curious ability to draw penalties” rivals that of LeBron James

  3. cannonaz - Jul 21, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    It’s Burke, look at bryz and smith, both were throw aways. They spend time with Burke all of a sudden they are among the best in the league. Look at Bryz this year, he often looked lost out there behind a stellar team. Who wanted Smith last year, he was destined for a backup spot at best. Burke saw something and wanted him. Burke should get alot more credit than he has received and prob should get half of Smiths next contract.

  4. dsd3 - Jul 21, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    In one word: No.

  5. Doesnotmatter - Jul 22, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    I logged in just to write this———–> No.

  6. acer4557 - Jul 27, 2012 at 3:06 AM

    I also logged in just to say WHAT !! Can you say Vezina YES

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