The Phoenix Coyotes hit the road to take on the Dallas Stars on Friday. The ‘Yotes have struggled so far in this shortened season with a 2-4-1 record, but much of their issues stem from injuries to key players.
One of the injured was starting goalie Mike Smith. Smith left in the third game of the season against Columbus with a groin issue, but Thursday at optional skate he said he's ready to get back on the ice and contribute.
"I'm here, skating," he said. "It's gotten a lot better over the last few days so I'm excited to get back in the lineup."
The Coyotes ended up winning the game Smith exited, beating Columbus 5-1, but have only recorded one more win since. They've also used two goalies, Jason LaBarbera and Chad Johnson, in Smith's absence.
"It's kind of frustrating watching from the sidelines. It's not something I like to do, I feel kind of helpless. Johnny (Chad Johnson) went in and played a couple great games for us and we're playing a lot better hockey so hopefully we can keep it going."
Before the last two contests, Phoenix had allowed an NHL-high 20 goals in five games. Some of that was due to poor defense and some was due to poor goaltending.
"I'm ready, so hopefully I can get back in there soon and start helping the team. I think we've played a lot better as of late and the last couple games have been more like Coyote hockey so it's an exciting time to get back in."
Smith made sure to emphasize that this is not the same injury he was dealing with last season, when he also suffered a pulled groin. He added having an abbreviated training camp and no preseason games probably didn't help.
"It was a short camp, didn't have much time to feel yourself in the games. The groins both kind of got a little tired at the same time. It was unfortunate that I had to miss some games but like I said, I'm here to move on and hopefully I can get one of these games on the weekend."
The Coyotes play a home and home with the Stars starting Friday night in Dallas. After that they host the Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday and Thursday of next week.