According to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune, the complexion of the Coyotes-Blackhawks series could be in for a major change.
Kuc reports that Phoenix starting netminder Mike Smith — who was brilliant in Games 1 and 2 — will be a gametime decision for tonight’s crucial Game 3 at the United Center.
Smith was shaken up after being charged by Chicago’s Andrew Shaw midway through Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss. While he returned to finish the contest, Smith missed Monday’s practice before rejoining his teammates for Tuesday’s morning skate.
Following the skate, Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett wasn’t offering much insight to Smith’s status.
“Game time decision,” he said. “Game time decision.”
Tippett was a bit more loquacious when it came to speaking about the hit that injured Smith (emphasis on “a bit”.”)
“It’s a blatant hit to the head,” Tippett said. “The type of hit they are trying to get out of the game.”
The controversy surrounding the Smith situation is complex. Shaw already had his disciplinary hearing with Brendan Shanahan, yet no ruling’s been announced — leading to speculation that Shaw’s punishment might be tied to any potential injury to Smith.
Further muddling things is that, after returning to Saturday’s contest, Smith is now listed as a game time decision, raising a lot of 1) concussion protocol flags, and 2) suspicions that Phoenix is playing coy with Smith’s actual status.
Tippett was asked about that, too — and (surprise!) didn’t offer much.
Reporter: If Smith is a game time decision, are you at all re-thinking that he should’ve finished last game? Can you take us through that a little bit?
Tippett: No. He was fine.
Reporter: But he’s not fine now, necessarily?
Tippett: We’ll see.
Smith has stopped 89 of 95 shots through two games against Chicago — that’s a .937 save percentage on an average of 47 shots faced per game. If he can’t go, duties will fall to backup netminder Jason LaBarbera.