Considering Mike Smith is one of the oldest goalies in the league and missed a month with a lower-body injury earlier this year, you’d think the Coyotes would try and shelter him a little bit.
But that really, really hasn’t been the case.
Smith has faced an average of 38 shots over his last 11 games — including 45 in a win over the Preds on Saturday — and he figures to get another bunch thrown at him tonight when the Coyotes take on the high-flying Penguins in Pittsburgh.
The 34-year-old’s run of crazy shot totals began in his second game back from injury — on Nov. 11, he made 43 saves in a 3-2 OT win over the Sharks.
A week later, he faced 42 shots in back-to-back games in Edmonton and San Jose.
A week after that, the Blue Jackets put up a franchise record 60 shots in a shootout win. Smith made 58 saves, which was also a Coyotes franchise record.
Following the Columbus debacle, the Coyotes “held” Chicago to 27 shots, but then surrendered 35 in a loss to Calgary and the aforementioned 45 against the Preds over the weekend.
In light of all this, what Smith’s done this season is (rightly) being met with the highest of praise. He boasts a tremendous .931 save percentage and has received huge kudos from his teammates.
“The last two weeks he’s been in a zone. That’s the only reason we’re even remotely close to getting points or getting any type of team success,” captain Shane Doan told Arizona Sports, after the Columbus game. “That’s like 1980s. It’s pretty impressive what he did.”
For the Pens, looks like Matt Murray starts in goal.
— Just one other matchup tonight, but it’s a good one: Tuukka Rask and the Bruins visit Carey Price and the Canadiens in an Original Six rivalry. Price last played in Saturday’s 10-1 whipping of the Avs, while Rask allowed three goals in just 19 shots in a disappointing loss to the Leafs.