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NHL Arizona Coyotes

Phoenix Coyotes: The Regression Of Mike Smith

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

This season has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start for the Phoenix Coyotes. They have their moments, but have yet to consistently show us that team that went to the Western Conference Finals last season. Part of the reason for their inconsistency is the play of goaltender Mike Smith.

Smith had an absolutely fantastic 2011-2012 season. He finally locked down a starting gig, starting over 65 games for Phoenix, which was a career high for him by about 25 or so games. By all accounts, he probably should have ended the season as a Vezina Trophy finalist.

He finished with a 2.21 goals-against average, a .930 save percentage and eight shutouts. Those numbers are elite. Mike Smith has looked anything but elite so far in 2013.

After looking like a lock for a new contract once the Coyotes got their ownership situation sorted out, it will be interesting to see how the Coyotes approach a new contract for Smith when he becomes a free agent this summer, if he continues down the current path he is on.

Smith hasn’t been awful. He’s had his moments where he’s looked pretty bad. It’s just a matter of consistency. He had it last year, he’s lacking it greatly this year.

His 9-6-2 record is solid. His .900 save percentage and GAA near three are not. He’s given up at least four goals seven times, including two performances in which he’s surrendered six goals. He has three shutouts though. So it’s mainly a matter of consistency for Mike Smith.

Almost everyone could have seen this coming. After last year, it was almost impossible to expect a repeat performance by a guy who was a career backup, for the most part, prior to coming to Phoenix. He was going to experience some sort of regression. That regression has taken the form of inconsistency.

If Smith can improve and return to the form he displayed last year, it’s a no brainer that he’ll be a part of the Phoenix Coyotes’ future, wherever it may be. If not, it will be interesting to see what becomes of him this summer. We’ll see if he can gain some consistency moving forward.