Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith is not looking like the man that stood on his head in the postseason a year ago when he almost single-handedly knocked out the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round.
In his first two appearances to start the season Smith has given up four goals in the season opening loss to the Dallas Stars and six in the loss to the same Blackhawks team he dominated in the six-game series win that ended with Smith posting a shutout of the high-powered offensive attack of the Blackhawks.
Smith was a large part of the Coyotes making it all the way to the Western Conference Finals last season, but the 30-year old goaltender suffered a lower-body injury in his third game of the season and is day-to-day. While Smith recovers from his injury, Coyotes fans have to be asking themselves if the Smith that was on the ice last season was a fluke or if this two-game stint to start the season is just a blip on the radar and too small of a sample size to draw any conclusions.
In the meantime Jason LaBarbera is in net for the Coyotes and was on the ice for the lone win of the season so far the team that is looking up to three teams in the Pacific Division in the Western Conference. The team needs Smith to come back from his injury and play like he did in the postseason last year when he had a 1.99 goals against average.
Lower-body injuries are tricky for goalies to recover from and if Smith shows any signs of that injury lingering throughout the season, the team will continue to look up at other teams in the standings because they lack the necessary offensive firepower to compete with the top teams in the conference without the stellar play of Smith.
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