|Forensics - Mike Smith||Tweet|
|Written by Michael Amato|
|Tuesday, 06 March 2012 16:10|
Once again the Phoenix Coyotes find themselves firmly entrenched in a playoff spot in the Western Conference despite having an average roster. Much of that credit can be attributed to the strong play of goalie Mike Smith. A career backup, Smith has found a home in Phoenix and is putting together an incredible season. There must be something in the water over there, or could it be someone behind the bench?
Dave Tippett took over the Coyotes prior to the 2009-10 season, and has led them to the postseason in each year he has been at the helm. In fact Tippett has missed the playoffs just once in his nine year NHL coaching career. That came in 2008-09 when the Stars let him go and they haven’t been back to the playoffs since.
Tippett has had a great track record with goalies wherever he has been. When he took over the Stars in 2002-03, Marty Turco had his best season as a pro with a 1.72 GAA and a .932 save percentage. In the two years he coached Ilya Bryzgalov, the Russian net minder had a .921 save percentage and 15 shutouts. This year Bryzgalov left for Philadelphia and well….. you know the rest.
The thing with Phoenix is although they play a defensive style, they give up a lot of shots. Smith ranks in the top five in average shots faced per game.
He also ranks in the top 10 when it comes to total shots faced.
If you compare Smith’s numbers last year to this year there is an obvious improvement in his overall game. Last season with the Lightning Smith had a save percentage of .899 and one shutout, while this year that has jumped up to a .925 mark with four shutouts.
Now although Smith has faced a fair amount of rubber, one thing the Coyotes have done is made the degree of difficulty of those shots a little more manageable. Let’s look at his shots faced from 30-45 feet away which goalies at the NHL level are going to stop more often than not.
You can see he sits sixth in that category. So when you have an opportunity to face a lot of shots and the majority of them are not quality scoring chances, that usually means a better chance of a higher save percentage.
I am not trying to diminish what Smith has accomplished in any way. Rather just merely pointing out that the system a player plays in will have a profound effect on their production. When it comes to fantasy drafting, the highs and lows of a player’s career playing within a certain system or for a specific coach can be very telling. A prolific offensive player may not flourish in a Dave Tippett system, but goaltenders certainly have.
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|Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 10:16|