Coyotes goalie Mike Smith looks to 'bring the A game'
However, he has not been in this spot before: being the number-one goaltender on a playoff team.
That said, the six-year veteran sees no reason to change his preparation as the Phoenix Coyotes ready themselves for Game 1 against the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday.
"I haven't approached any game differently this year," Smith said this week. "I'm not going to change what I've done so far because it's the playoffs. I have to play the same kind of hockey I've been playing and hopefully that's good enough."
Thus far, it has been good enough.
Smith this season set career-highs in games played, games started, wins and shutouts while his .930 save percentage was third-best in the NHL.
"Right from the first day of training camp, he's worked hard to (reach) that goal, to become a very good number- one goaltender in this league," explained head coach Dave Tippett, who had Smith in net for two seasons (2006-2007) when he was the head coach in Dallas.
"At the start of the year we would've hoped for this," Tippett continued. "Did we know it was coming? No. That's been a lot of work by Mike. He's gotten himself to really an elite status."
Smith got his first taste of the playoffs last year with Tampa Bay. He appeared in three games, including two starts, in the Lightning's first round series with the Boston Bruins.
"The adrenaline, the intensity, everything is at a whole new level but that's the exciting part of playing this time of the season," said Smith. "There's not a better feeling than playing in the playoffs. As an athlete and a professional you want to be playing in important games and it doesn't get more important than this.
"I'm excited that I'm getting the opportunity to play and hopefully I can bring the A game."
- Dave Tippett, Phoenix Coyotes Head Coach - Thursday April 25Tippett tells Burns & Gambo why he thinks the Coyotes didn't get into the postseason
- Dave Tippett, Coyotes head coach - Friday April 19Tippett goes over what the Coyotes have to do to make the playoffs. He also gives an injury update o
- Dave Tippett, Phoenix Coyotes Head Coach - Thursday April 11Coyotes are making a late playoff push after beating Edmonton last night. Coach Tippett joins the sh
- Dave Tippett, Phoenix Coyotes' Head Coach - Friday April 5Coach Tippett talks to Burns & Gambo about the win over Detroit and the moves at the trade deadline.
- Don Maloney, Coyotes GM - Thursday March 28Don talks about Mike Smith's contract, the Coyotes' offensive struggles, and how they can get back i