Losing Ilya Bryzgalov over the summer was supposed to be a huge blow to the Phoenix Coyotes. He was one of the main reasons Phoenix made the playoffs in 2009-10 and 2010-11. However, the Coyotes have advanced to the first round for the third straight season, thanks in large part to the rise of Mike Smith. Smith was coming off two rough campaigns in Tampa Bay, but he’s been among the league’s top goaltenders in 2011-12.
That’s part of the reason Barry Melrose chose Smith as his Mullet of the Year winner for someone who greatly surpassed expectations. You can view his full explanation below.
Of course, for the Coyotes, the next question is how Smith will do in the postseason. Phoenix got booted out of the playoffs in the first round in its last two attempts. Smith has only started in one NHL playoff game so far in his career.