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Lower-body injury ends Mike Smith’s night

Jan 23, 2013, 11:10 PM EDT

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 27: Mike Smith #41 of the Phoenix Coyotes makes his way to the ice for warm-ups prior to facing the Nashville Predators in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Arena on April 27, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

Mike Smith allowed 10 goals overall in the Phoenix Coyotes’ first two games of the season, but he didn’t leave Wednesday’s contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets because of a poor performance.

The big goalie won’t return to the game after suffering a lower-body injury in the first period, AZ Central’s Sarah McLellan reports. Backup Jason LaBarbera, 36, took over for the Coyotes’ workhorse in this game.

It’s unclear how serious Smith’s injury is just yet.

A troubling history

Many came into this season wondering if the 30-year-old netminder could show the consistency he did in a breakthrough 2011-12 campaign, but it’s easy to forget that injuries have arguably been his biggest hurdle.

His time with the Tampa Bay Lightning was marred by health problems. Smith managed seasons of 42, 41 and 22 games played with the Bolts before Phoenix’s career-high 67 contests last season.

Big stakes

There’s a lot on the line for the goalie and his team. Smith is in a contract year, so another strong season could strengthen the argument that he didn’t just have a lucky campaign. Meanwhile, as much magic as Dave Tippett has managed, it’s hard to imagine the Coyotes approaching last year’s surprising run with LaBarbera as the No.1 guy.

Phoenix is already 0-2-0 with this game against Columbus still in action, yet the team’s rocky start could get much uglier if this situation goes wrong.

  1. esracerx46 - Jan 24, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    Last year was also the only good season of his career. He’s a lot like Brian Elliot and Ilya Bryzgalov. Theyre journeymen. In the right system they thrive. In the wrong system they turn into well.. Ilya Bryzgalov.

  2. comeonnowguys - Jan 24, 2013 at 12:52 AM

    Is he hurt, or is he just trying really hard to get someone suspended?

    • hasekneverretires - Jan 24, 2013 at 6:28 PM

      Speaking of Duncan Keith, I wonder which Sedin sister’s head he’ll slam against the glass this season?

  3. LoyalFan34yrsGoKings - Jan 24, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    Mike Smith is a Punk

  4. rushledger - Jan 24, 2013 at 3:16 AM

    Smith is legit I hope it’s nothing serious.

    • esracerx46 - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:39 AM

      He’s legit? He’s bounced around with 3 teams. He was all but run out of the league when he was with the Lightning 2 years ago. Oh wait, he was run out of the league when the Lightning put him on waivers and no one claimed him and was sent to the AHL. 1 good year does not make a career. He’s a system goalie.

  5. ron05342 - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    How did he hurt himself?

    Did he throw his back out after swinging his stick at someone’s head?

  6. thailer35 - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    LaBarbera is 33, not 36. And while I’m a fan of Smitty and agree he was instrumental to the Coyotes success last season, Barbs looked pretty solid in net last night and made some really clutch saves.

  7. cubfan531 - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    Some players have a hard time staying healthy, and it makes them endearing to fans. They’re all over, and the subject of countless “what if” discussions.

    Then there’s players like Mike Smith. You don’t want to say you’d like to see him hurt, but you’re not going to lose any sleep if he winds up on the IR in a contract year.

    • thailer35 - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      Spoken like a true dirty Chicago fan.

      • comeonnowguys - Jan 24, 2013 at 12:27 PM

        Its funny that you think only one fandom hates him.

      • cubfan531 - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:20 PM

        Ask Dustin Brown how he feels about Mike Smith. Or have you forgotten game two of the Western Conference Finals?

  8. slickdemetrius - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    I hope he’s alright longterm – Quebec City will need a decent backup gaolie next year.

    • thailer35 - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      Yes! There’s the Phoeniphobia that we’ve been missing here!

      • slickdemetrius - Jan 24, 2013 at 6:14 PM

        No need to thank me. Just doing my job.

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