Smith

 

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.

 

Rank

Player

Team

GP

AvgShots

1

RINNE, PEKKA

NSH

58

30.47

2

WARD, CAM

CAR

54

30.35

3

ANDERSON, CRAIG

OTT

56

30.21

4

SMITH, MIKE

PHX

53

29.89

5

PAVELEC, ONDREJ

WPG

55

29.80

6

LUNDQVIST, HENRIK

NYR

48

29.54

7

THOMAS, TIMOTHY JR.

BOS

45

29.38

8

VARLAMOV, SIMEON

COL

40

29.10

9

KIPRUSOFF, MIIKKA

CGY

57

29.05

10

LEHTONEN, KARI

DAL

46

28.98

 

He also ranks in the top 10 when it comes to total shots faced.

 

Rank

Player

Team

SA

1

RINNE, PEKKA

NSH

1767

2

ANDERSON, CRAIG

OTT

1692

3

HILLER, JONAS

ANA

1670

4

KIPRUSOFF, MIIKKA

CGY

1656

5

PRICE, CAREY

MTL

1643

6

WARD, CAM

CAR

1639

6

PAVELEC, ONDREJ

WPG

1639

7

SMITH, MIKE

PHX

1584

8

QUICK, JONATHAN

L.A

1528

9

FLEURY, MARC-ANDRE

PIT

1449

 

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.

 

 

Rank

Name

Team

GP

Shots

Goals

Save%

 

RINNE,PEKKA

NSH

58

529

19

0.964

 

KIPRUSOFF,MIIKKA

CGY

56

475

18

0.962

 

QUICK,JONATHAN

L.A

55

433

18

0.958

 

HILLER,JONAS

ANA

61

430

26

0.940

 

PAVELEC,ONDREJ

WPG

55

418

30

0.928

 

SMITH,MIKE

PHX

53

410

16

0.961

 

THOMAS,TIMOTHY JR.

BOS

44

398

26

0.935

 

ANDERSON,CRAIG

OTT

56

395

19

0.952

 

PRICE,CAREY

MTL

57

391

16

0.959

 

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.

 

Feel free to follow me on twitter at @amato_mike

 

 


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Comments (3)add comment

kevinsrangers said:

kevinsrangers
coach also a goalie coach can do wonders,just ask goldman, and i belive sean burke played the same style as smith. i think sean burke has done a great job.
March 07, 2012
Votes: +0

Renaldo? said:

Teh Doktor
Good Stuff! I saw Smith play two nights ago. It, and the fact that the guy just above me in first got to first by picking up Smith, got me thinking:

Smith took a lot of heat on this website last year for sucking out loud. What is responsible for the turnaround?

Coaching? System? Better defense?

This clairifies it a bit.

Thank you.
March 07, 2012
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

Pengwin7
Really good. I really enjoyed this.

On a completely different tangent... part of me is starting to think I should just "buy" goalies in non-hockey markets. I mean, goaltending is such a mental game - if you play in a non-hockey market a goalie can remember "Hey... if I shit the bed tonight... nobody is going to care in a day or two... ah, relax man... everything will be OK". LOL
March 06, 2012
Votes: +0
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