It has been three straights shutouts for the Coyotes. Beating San Jose, Anaheim, and Columbus. 219 minutes and 59 seconds since the Coyotes have given up a goal. Mike Smith has been every accolade you can think of and more. A Wall, Stood On His Head, Playing Out of His Mind. Keep going, he deserves them all. Tonight, he stopped 54 shots in the 2-0 win over Columbus. He was on pace to see 57 shots after the 2nd period. After the game in an interview on ice with Todd Walsh after being named first star, he talked about how this team is desperate for points. Wants to make a run at the Stanley Cup. When asked about seeing alot of shots, he jokingly said “I didn’t see alot of them.” Glove saves that are nightly highlights. Pad saves that steers the puck of of trouble. Taking a puck off the cage and catching the rebound. Mike Smith has found a home, and the NHL needs to consider him for not just the Vezina but also the Hart. There is no way the Coyotes would be tied for Pacific Division lead with 93 points and 7th in the Western Conference if not for the play of Mike Smith.
Boyd Gordon, in the words of Tyson Nash, had a blatant disregard for his body in blocking a shot off his leg. Boyd gets up, limping and in pain. Unfortunately, the puck wound up back at the puck in front of Boyd. What did he do? He threw himself in front of the slapper. This time he took it off the arm. The puck ended up being smothered by Smitty, and there was Boyd. Slowly skating off, using his stick as a tripod to get off the ice. Right to the dressing room. Fans gave him a standing ovation as they saw what Hockey The Hard Way is all about. When the third period started, there he was out on the ice, ready to take the opening faceoff.
If you are going to face 54 shots, there must be a reason. How about being on the penalty kill seven times. Going 7 for 7. Smitty making save after save. The PK saw more ice time than most fourth lines tonight. Derek Morris took a few penalties, some questionable. When we was on the ice, there he was in front of Smitty, clearing the lanes to let him see the puck. Out high, there is Boyd and Lauri harassing the forwards to move the puck quickly versus allowing them to wait for something to develop.
Coach Tippett always talks about second line scoring. How about Boyd Gordon getting the first goal on a pass from Rozsival after a great play by Pyatt. The second goal was a beauty. Daymond Langkow carries it in and gets tripped. In a flash he is up and the puck ended up on the backhand of Gilbert Brule. Brule knocks it home in an instant. And standing there in front of the net in case there is a rebound in Langkow. Gordon and Brule contribute offensively. That is second line scoring.
Late in the third period, the over 13,000 in attendance chant Smitty, Smitty. A few of us start the MVP chant. Everyone saw what Dave Tippett saw in Mike. Thank you Coyotes for this great regular season. It has been three straight years of 40 wins each season, a franchise first. That is due to the coaching, players who play a role, and superstars like Ray Whitney and Shane Doan. Everyone contributing. Everyone chipping in. All In.
I’m not ready for this to end.