After a rough start to the season, the Coyotes are starting to get their mojo back while riding a two-game win streak and picking up at least a point in their last five contests.
Goalie Mike Smith’s resurgence from a poor start to the season while battling a groin injury that forced him to miss four straight games is a big reason for the team’s latest success. Smith posted a shutout at home against Dallas Saturday and gave up a single goal against Minnesota Monday night.
Smith told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo that he’s happy to be back defending the goal for Phoenix.
“It feels nice to actually help the team out a little bit,” he said. “I think the first couple of games, obviously, we were a little shaky, a little rusty, but it’s nice to get back in there, feeling good about my game and help the team have a little bit of success.”
The goalie said the lockout took a toll on his team’s play to start the season, but with guys buying into the ‘Yotes style of play things are starting to look up.
“It took us a few games to get back to the way we were playing in the playoffs. I think the new guys realize now how we have to play to win and the core guys need a refresher once in a while too,” he said. “So I think we really established the way we need to play to keep ourselves in the running and give ourselves the chances to win hockey games, for the most part we’ve done that down the last little stretch here.”
Smith said having his reps cut short by the lockout also heavily affected his performance between the pipes but is now ready to regain his 2012 form.
“Not having the structure in practices, like we did, over the lockout allows you to create bad habits,” Smith said. “It’s tough to start off like that after a long lay-off and then getting right back into games that mean something, but after the first couple of games I felt a little more comfortable every game since then and after my little injury there, hopefully we’ll just continue to improve.”
This team doesn’t have one guy to carry the load, Smith told the show, Phoenix’s hockey club is about getting the puck to different players when needed.
“When we win hockey games it’s very rewarding for every player because every player has something to do with it,” he said. “It’s not a one-man show out there, that’s the way we found ourselves in the playoffs last year and that’s the way we’ll continue to win this year.”