4 Goals allowed in the last 6 games. 2 shutouts. 171 consecutive minutes of scoreless hockey. Countless saves that prevented backbreaking goals by the opposition. The “He stood on his head” statement that has allowed the Coyotes to go 7-1 in their last eight games. The reason the team has moved from 12th in the Western Conference to alone in 7th with a great shot at winning the Pacific division.
Mike Smith has put the team on his shoulders and is carrying them into the stretch drive. Any type of weakness he showed earlier this year is gone. There are no soft goals. Nothing is getting by him. If he can see it, he stops it. Even his Achilles, the tip from the high slot, is being gobbled up. On the power play, the forwards are expecting the long pass if the puck is cleared to his end. Give him an empty net, and he is lifting the puck the length of the ice and going for it. He is the 3rd defenseman thanks to his stickhandling. And he is a supporter of Jason LaBarbera. You can tell it when they do their end of game “discount double check” move. A backup goalie can be your angel or stabbing you in the back. There is not a better tandem in the NHL.
Smitty has been the Ganem Jewelers Player of the Month and 1st Star so many times that he has his own counter in their Scottsdale store. 25 wins, 14 losses, 7 overtime losses, and 4 shutouts. 46 games started. Last 6 starts his goals against average is below 1.00. His season GAA is 2.25 with a 0.928 save percentage. Cap Geek has him at 2 million per year on a 2 year deal. Much better than the Russian at 51 million over 8 years, 5.667 million per year. That is over 30,00 dollars per day. And he let in 3 today and was pulled against Pittsburg.