For years Arizona Coyotes fans have complained about the massive contract Mike Smith signed back in 2013. This season, however, he is the only thing keeping the team semi-competitive.
It’s turned into another long season for the Arizona Coyotes.
To lighten the mood, let’s play a game. The Coyotes are 3-4-4 in their last 11 games.
Why is that? Think about your answer long and hard.
If you blame it on the terrible, awful, no good defense, you’d be wrong.
The answer lies in giving credit rather than assigning blame.
The Arizona Coyotes are 3-4-4 in their last 11 games because Mike Smith has played out of his mind.
Since returning from injury in mid November, Smith has faced an average of 36 shots per game, including three games of 40+ and one game of 60 shots.
60 shots. How does that even happen?
Yet somehow, he has put together a record of 3-3-3 in that span to go along with a .929 save percentage.
His teammates should be thankful to have those three wins.
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As badly as the Coyotes have been outshot and outplayed in that span, it’s incredible that they haven’t gone 0-11-0.
To add more context, take a look at the team’s overall record.
With Smith: 4-3-3
Without Smith: 4-10-1
If you extrapolate Smith’s record over the 25 games the Coyotes have played, the team is 10-8-7.
That puts them within a point of a playoff spot.
Extrapolating the record without Smith puts you at 7-17-1. That pace would earn 49 points by the end of the season.
No team has finished that low since the 1999-2000 Atlanta Thrashers, a first-year expansion team.
The reason I say “without Smith” rather than “with Domingue” is because the blame does not lie with him, either.
Every member of this team, including Dave Tippett and the rest of the coaching staff, needs to take a good, long look in the mirror and ask themselves what they need to do to improve.
Mike Smith deserves better.
Louis Domingue deserves better.
The fans deserves better.
This season was never about wins. It was supposed to be about taking another step in the right direction.
What it has become is a nightly shooting gallery for opposing teams met with little to no resistance.
It was once this team’s mission to outwork their opponent every night, even when they were outmatched on paper.
Getting back to that kind work ethic is the only way to make progress.
One thing is for certain, though. Mike Smith is definitely earning his paycheck.