The back and forth between goalies Mike Smith and Thomas Greiss is beginning to wear thin. Not just on the scoreboard or the team, but on the fans of the Phoenix Coyotes. Smith has been the starter for some time now and he’s consistently given up the net in the 3rd period. It seems that once he gets, oh let’s say, 3 horrible losses in a row under his belt Yotes Head Coach David Tippett decides to slot in Greiss. And Greiss routinely rises to the occasion and follows up his slot upgrade with a solid win. That’s one solid win. After that Greiss gives up a game, Tippett panics and goes back to Smitty. And rinse and repeat until the most winningest coach in Coyotes brief history ends up losing his job.
As an Arizona sports fan this seems all too familiar. It reminds me of the quarterback situation for the Arizona Cardinals between the years 2010-2012. Now, it’s not easy to compare the game of Hockey to the game of Football. But here on the eve of the Super Bowl, it only seems fit to attempt to. So allow me some grace.
Now, a goalie is not a quarterback. I get it. But like a quarterback I think it’s safe to say that the goalie is often the most important player on the field of play. Think about it. Both positions are incredibly sought after by teams. Both positions set a tempo and try to control games; one offensively and the other defensively. Both positions can make or break a team. In football if you don’t have a good quarterback you just flat out do not compete. At all. Case in point? Like I said, the Arizona Cardinals between the years 2010-2012.
As soon as Kurt Warner left and the front office went after Derek Anderson (fresh off a season of not being fresh or even stale in the least with the Cleveland Browns) the writing was on the wall for a long slog of three years full of QB strife. There were more switches behind center then Lyle Sendlein adjusting his cup. Ken Whisenhunt seemed at a loss when he went from Anderson to rookie Max Hall to rookie John Skelton to one time savior of the team Kevin Kolb, back to John Skelton, back to Kevin Kolb, back to John Skelton, to stick with John Skelton, back to Kevin Kolb, to rookie Ryan Lindley, back to John Skelton, say hello again to Ryan Lindley then finally to Brian Hoyer. It was a dizzying display of mediocrity and frustration to say the least.
Now, even within the turmoil that was the Whisenhunt quarterbackless years for the Cardinals there were still some glimmers of success. For instance, John Skelton had a fairly decent 2011 when he was allowed to keep the starting job and get some games under his belt. This is something that Greiss, under Coach Tippy, has not been able to do. Is it possible that Greiss could do the same with some extended play in front of the net? Who’s to say no?
Look, I’m no expert. I just understand certain things. One of them being that nobody is going to be able to correct mistakes if they’re not given the opportunity to do so. If Tippett continues to pull Greiss after one loss then that is exactly what will happen. All I’m saying here is, attempt to create a sense of stability and your players may just rise to the occasion.
Tonight the Yotes face the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s safe to say that this opponent is one of the best in the NHL. Let’s hope Smith makes his biggest fan Tippett proud and makes me eat my words. After all, I’d rather be wrong and have them win then be right and have them lose. Until later, stay ornery Arizona.