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Coyotes goalie Mike Smith looks to ‘bring the A game’

Mike Smith has been in this position before: getting ready
for the playoffs.

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.”