The Phoenix Coyotes fell to the Edmonton Oilers in a shootout Saturday, but the play of Mike Smith deserved more than just one point in the standings. Smith turned aside 41 of the 43 shots he faced and looked every bit like the goaltender that took the Coyotes to the 2012 Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately the Phoenix offense didn’t do enough to help him, which has been a trend as of late. The Oilers’ Sam Gagner also victimized Smith in the opening round of the shootout with a nifty move that quickly showed up in the night’s highlight reel. Jordan Eberle buried the second Edmonton attempt as both Coyotes shooters (Mikkel Boedker, David Rundblad) failed on their attempts.
In a stretch of nine games from Feb. 2 through last night, the Coyotes have not lost a game with Smith in net when they score two or more goals. They have still managed to take points from eight of their 10 February games, a true testament to how much Smith means to the team. Kyle Chipchura and Matthew Lombardi scored for the Coyotes, who haven’t gotten the needed production from Shane Doan, Radim Vrbata and Steve Sullivan lately. Smith has recorded three shutouts this month and continues to give his team a chance to win every time he takes the ice. After two straight seasons of playing this well, Smith deserves not only a spot in the Vezina Trophy race but in the Hart Trophy race as well.
The Coyotes play the Calgary Flames today, the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday and the Minnesota Wild on Thursday and with that favorable schedule Smith could very well start all three games, which would bring him to 13 consecutive starts for the team. With the way he’s playing that continues to be the best option in Phoenix, he just needs a little more offensive support.