Off the Ice: Mike Smith is making me a believer

Nov 4, 2011, 5:22 PM | Updated: 10:14 pm

Eating your own words is a tricky business.

How do you do it while still maintaining an air of humor
or keeping those who were correct from sending a mocking,
“I told you so” your way? I’m not sure if it’s possible,
but I owe it to the man to give it a try, so here it goes.

Mike Smith, I was wrong about you.

There, I said it and I sure do feel better. When the
Phoenix Coyotes signed Mike Smith, I was incredibly
disappointed. I couldn’t believe we were losing a (top?)
netminder in Ilya Bryzgalov and replacing him with a guy
who had spent part of the most recent season in the AHL
and his NHL time as a backup, albeit a good one. I pushed
for guys like Tomas Vokoun, Antti Nittymaki or Evgeni
Nabokov to come to Phoenix via free agency or trade, but
not someone like Smith. I’m usually a believer in Coyotes
head coach Dave Tippett, but I thought he went after the
wrong player this time.

Tip, I was wrong. You coached Smith in Dallas and knew
what he was capable of: leading a defensive-minded team
while seeing a lot of shots heading his way.

I do grant myself this, however. Smith took some time to
adjust to the Coyotes style of play and has given up a few
questionable goals, but his overall performance has been
beyond my wildest expectations. Smith is currently fourth
in the NHL with a save percentage of .927 and has already
faced 300 shots. He may have already let 22 goals slip by
him, but saving every shot in the NHL is impossible. I’m
even willing to give a few of those back considering how
many times I’ve seen his name popping up on highlight

One thing I didn’t expect from Smith was his aggressive
play. He protects his crease and himself as any goalie
does, but he almost becomes a sixth skater on offense, at
times. His ability to play the puck is impressive and
finally allows the Coyotes to capitalize on their speed up
top when the play is coming out of the back. Yes, he’s
goofed a few times and gotten drilled behind the goal,
but, like his goals given up, I will take the positive
over the negative.

I don’t want to jinx anything as it is still very early in
the hockey season, but I’m edging toward the Smith
bandwagon. The guy came in, took on a difficult role with
big Russian shoes to fill and has shown that he can hold
his own and excel, not to mention he proved me wrong. You
may not see me holding an “In Smith We Trust” sign at a
game anytime soon, but I was made a believer.

Mr. Smith, I tip my hat to you.

Penguin Air

Off The Ice

Follow @carternacke...
Carter Nacke

Off the Ice: Taking a look back at the 2013-14 Phoenix Coyotes

I hate writing this piece. Not only because this means the Phoenix Coyotes’ season is done for the year, but writing it for the second time in a row in mid-April makes it all the more painful. Also, this is your chance to laugh at how wrong I was. After such a promising start, the […]
9 years ago
Follow @carternacke...
Carter Nacke

Coyotes close season with win in ‘hollow’ game

At 8:33 p.m. Sunday, the Phoenix Coyotes’ 2013-2014 season officially came to a close. The game, once possibly a playoff decider, was decribed as “hollow” by head coach Dave Tippett. His team may have emerged as the victor in a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars, but no matter the outcome, he and his squad […]
9 years ago
Follow @carternacke...
Carter Nacke

Coyotes’ woeful stretch run shows it’s time for change

There comes a time in life when all good things come to an end. An ice cold beer. “How I Met Your Mother.” A playoff run. The Phoenix Coyotes were officially eliminated from the playoffs Friday courtesy of a 3-0 win by the Dallas Stars over the St. Louis Blues. But let’s face it: The […]
9 years ago
Follow @carternacke...
Carter Nacke

Off the Ice: Confidence key if Coyotes are going to make playoffs

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Confidence is a funny thing. Too low of an amount and a man can look diminished, weak. Too much and the man grows too tall, easily tripping himself up. And just the right amount makes him look taller. It’ll even let him cover up a few mistakes. It’s pretty clear the Phoenix […]
9 years ago
Follow @carternacke...
Carter Nacke

Ice Bites: Grading Phoenix Coyotes trade for Martin Erat

The National Hockey League trade window has come to a close and, after all the dust settled, the Phoenix Coyotes were up a winger, a pick and a prospect and down three prospects and a veteran defenseman. After it was all said and done, every hockey pundit took to the Internet to grade the trades, […]
9 years ago
Follow @carternacke...
Carter Nacke

Off the Ice: Should the Phoenix Coyotes make a move for a left wing?

Let’s talk trades, shall we? As it stands, the Phoenix Coyotes are a bubble team this season at best. I’m not bashing the team, but being realistic. They’re not giving their defense the leads it needs, and they are finding ways to let points slip through their fingers. It’s simple. So, where’s the problem? As […]
9 years ago
Off the Ice: Mike Smith is making me a believer