Mike Smith has been a major disappointment this season — 5-14-2 record, 3.35 GAA, .889 save percentage — and on Thursday, Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett expressed frustration and confusion as to why his No. 1 goalie has gone south.
“You have to continue to push and prod and get his game in order,” Tippett told Arizona Sports 98.7 radio. “That’s the thing that’s been frustrating. Sean Burke and I spend a lot of time together and Burkie spends a lot of time with Smitty — in practice, he looks like he’s right on top of his game.
“And then we get into the games, and he hasn’t been able to get it done.”
While he admitted the team’s lackluster play in front of Smith has been an issue, Tippett is clearly displeased with his veteran netminder’s performance. Smith, 32, is nowhere near the form displayed during the 2011-12 campaign — when he won 38 games and finished fourth in Hart and Vezina voting — and, unsurprisingly, the Coyotes are mired near the bottom of the Pacific Division with an 11-16-4 record.
Smith’s play has forced Tippett to start backup Devan Dubnyk three times in the last four games, and Dubnyk responded with a 31-save victory over Edmonton on Tuesday.
So, what does the future hold?
“Smitty’s going to get his chance again just because you need two goalies when you’re playing back to back and things like that,” Tippett explained. “Hopefully he can get in there and find his game.
“We watch him in practice all the time and he looks like an unbelievable goaltender. But for whatever reason, he gets in a game — part of it is we haven’t played well in front of him, but he hasn’t played as well as he’d like.”