Heading into this final stretch of games in the shortened NHL season, the Phoenix Coyotes still sit on the outside of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. They’re currently three points out of a spot, with nine games left in their season.
Though the Coyotes have had their struggles finding consistency, particularly on offense, one player is coming up big in his quest to help them reach the postseason: Mike Smith.
Last year’s hero, both in the regular season and in the playoffs, Smith hasn’t been without his struggles this year. Actually, he has probably cost himself a few bucks with a few awful performances, including allowing six goals three different times.
But lately, Smith’s game has been working between the pipes. Before he was knocked out of the lineup with a concussion, courtesy of Alex Edler, he was starting to heat up, and he hasn’t missed a beat in his two starts since returning to the crease.
In his last three starts, going back to March 21st, when he left early because of the injury, Smith has only allowed a combined two goals. He recorded a shutout over the weekend in his first start back before surrendering just one goal on Monday night, though the Coyotes were shutout.
If the Coyotes are going to make it into the postseason dance, they’ll need Smith to continue this pace. He’s been solid recently, shaking off some really bad outings. Though it will be interesting to see if those type of performances follow him into the postseason, or if we’ll see the 2011-2012 Smith, should the Coyotes make it in.