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Slumping Smith says he needs to relax

Dec 3, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT

Mike Smith Getty Images

Smitty say relax?

While it’s not quite Frankie going to Hollywood, Coyotes goalie Mike Smith is going into Edmonton on Tuesday with a new “chilled-out” mindset, hoping to snap a rough patch that’s seen Phoenix lose four of five.

“(I’m) just going to go into the next game a lot more relaxed and start enjoying it again,” Smith told the Arizona Republic. “I’ve been pressing a bit and trying to maybe play the perfect game, and it’s kind of affected the way I’ve played a bit.”

“Not awful, but I feel one or two goals here or there and the game can change.”

Smith, 31, has allowed 18 goals in his last five starts and has seen his GAA balloon to 3.07 and save percentage drop to .910. Though his record is still solid — 12-6-4 — it’s clear he’s not playing up to the level that earned him a six-year, $34 million extension this past summer.

To be fair to Smith, this season is unlike any other. He’s facing the weight of a big contract for the first time in his career — he’d never neared more than $2.2 million annually, but now makes $5.6M — and is facing Olympic pressure as well, projected to be one of the three goalies named to Team Canada for Sochi.

That said, Smith is only projected as the No. 3 (behind Roberto Luongo and Carey Price) and there appears to be competition for that third gig, as Corey Crawford and Cam Ward have played extremely well lately.

(There’s also the not-so-small issue of Dave Tippett’s system in Phoenix being perceived as favorable for goalies — Smith, Ilya Bryzgalov and even Jason LaBarbera have all thrived in it.)

Regardless, Smith says he knows what the problem is — he’s trying to let pucks hit him, rather than trying to challenge shooters and make saves.

“I can’t play like that,” he said. “I’m a freelancer and just go out there and enjoy the game and just have that mentality, ‘Come on, beat me with a shot.’

“Right now, it’s almost like I’m trying to go get it. Having that urge to do that obviously can turn and go the other way.”

  1. stevebass2 - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    It’s not entirely smiths fault. Yandle has been playing unbelievably poor defense and has again proved himself to be not with 5.6 million a year as a DEFENSEMAN and Michalek (our best defensive defenseman) has been out for a few games. It helps to have a healthy roster and players who are committed to playing Tippets defensive style rather than being selfish and careless.

  2. skr213 - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    I’ve never understood the idea of signing a goalie to more than 2 or 3 years (unless we’re talking about a Brodeur maybe). Look at San Jose; they never sign a goalie to more than 3 years and they’ve had elite goalies since the turn of the century (Kiprusoff, Toskala, Nabokov, Niemi). Hope Smith bounces back, and I’m sure he will, but Coyotes management needs to avoid acting like Philly.

  3. muckleflugga - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    the picture

    the pose…the poser

    the new age goalie…

    all hat, no cattle…all gear and garters, no skill

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