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Coyotes GM Chayka expresses confidence in G Louis Domingue

Arizona Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue (35) makes a save as Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun, top right, and San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture (39) watch during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 3-2. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: John Chayka, Arizona Coyotes general manager

The Arizona Coyotes have had to overcome adversity early on in the season, particularly at the goalie position.

Starter Mike Smith went down with a lower body injury in the second game of the season against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 18. He has been out ever since that game, but Coyotes general manager John Chayka told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM the goalie is progressing well and should not be out too much longer.

When Smith does come back, Chayka said, it will create a healthy competition between him and backup goalie Louis Domingue, who helped the Coyotes beat the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday 3-2, by making 39 saves on 41 shots.

“I thought top to bottom, starting with our goaltender, in order to win in this league we need at least league-average goaltending and Louis came in and had a .950 save percentage last night and looked tremendous,” Chayka said.

A save percentage of .950 is a quality number, but it hasn’t been like that for the entirety of the season. He currently ranks 35th out of 39 qualified goalies in save percentage, at .887. Domingue has struggled to keep the ‘Yotes in games, as he is just 2-5 in place of Smith.

Tuesday’s game was encouraging, and Domingue did back up what he said to the media before the Sharks game about how he can’t give up three goals a night and expect his team to come out with a win.

“As a manager I like to hear that too, just because we all know goals against is a team stat and it doesn’t fall on our goalie solely that’s for sure, but Louis hasn’t been as good as he’d probably want to be and that’s kind of what you’re hearing in that quote there,” Chayka said. “And he’s stepping up and taking responsibility for it, and like he said last night, we gave up two, we gave up a late one there where he didn’t have much of a chance, so in my mind he gave up one real goal and he was the difference maker really.”

Domingue is hovering right around where he was last year, as he ranked 31st in save percentage at a .912 clip with a record of 15-18 in 39 total games. With Smith being out for at least a little longer, Domingue is their guy.

“We have full confidence in Louis, that’s the important part,” Chayka said. “He proved himself enough last year that we believe he can do it, it’s just about him doing it consistently now, and doing it for 60 minutes game after game. And if he does that, we think we have a real competitive team here.”

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