Mike Smith

Red-hot Smith carrying Phoenix’s playoff hopes


The Phoenix Coyotes have won four of their last five and, as a result, moved to within two points of eighth in the Western Conference.

And a big part of that has been the play of Mike Smith.

The ‘Yotes netminder has been outstanding since returning from injury on Apr. 6, stopping 93 of the last 95 shots he’s faced.

“Smitty’s a real focused guy right now,” Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett told NHL.com. “He knows he has to be a very good player for us to be a good team. He’s willing to take that responsibility. That’s all you can ask for your No. 1 guy.”

In the last week, Smith recorded a shutout win over Colorado and allowed just one goal in a victory over Edmonton.

And even when he lost, he still played out of his mind.

In a 2-0 defeat to Vancouver on Monday, Smith made 40 saves as his Coyotes were badly outplayed (and out-shot, 41-18). He drew major praise from Canucks captain Henrik Sedin.

“We thought they were going to be ready, so we got a lot of pucks to the net,” Sedin explained. “But Mike, he’s a great goalie. He’s big and he’s great playing the puck, so it’s tough getting to him.”

This latest run has bumped Smith’s overall numbers on the year to 13-11-3, with a .910 save percentage and 2.59 GAA. He’s also tied for the league lead in shutouts, with five.

All of this makes one wonder what he’ll get on the open market, assuming he gets there. Smith’s in the final season of a modest two-year, $4 million deal and should get a significant raise.

But will it be in Phoenix?

Tippett is on record saying Smith’s influence over the team is impressive. You’d have to think he wants his No. 1 goalie to stay.

“Players in that dressing room look [at Smith] and he’s as focused as he is,” Tippett explained. “That’s a message that he’s sending that he’s ready to play, that the rest of us better be ready to play.”

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
Leave a comment

The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.

Leafs claim Corrado from Canucks, waive Panik

Frank Corrado
Leave a comment

The Toronto Maple Leafs have claimed one of the more intriguing players placed on waivers — former Vancouver defenseman Frank Corrado.

Corrado, 22, was waived by the Canucks on Monday. The former OHL standout had appeared in 28 career games for Vancouver — including 10 last year — but was squeezed out of an NHL spot following the emergence of Ben Hutton, who surprised many onlookers by making the 23-man roster.

Canucks GM Jim Benning will receive criticism for losing an asset like Corrado for nothing. Several Vancouver pundits warned of exposing a young, promising d-man to waivers and those warnings ultimately proved accurate.

With Toronto, Corrado could push for playing time as the club indicated on Monday veteran d-man Sephane Robidas wouldn’t be with the team to start the year. That would leave the the Leafs with seven healthy blueliners: Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner, Roman Polak, Morgan Rielly, Matt Hunwick, Martin Marincin and Scott Harrington, who can go to the minors without having to clear waivers.

Petter Granberg, another defenseman, is currently on IR.

In a corresponding move to the Corrado claim, the Leafs put forward Richard Panik on waivers. Panik, who Toronto plucked off waivers from Tampa Bay last year, appeared in 76 games for the Leafs, scoring 11 goals and 17 points.