Devil Dish: April 17
The Phoenix Coyotes are in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the third consecutive year. Mike Smith has been a revelation all season, the ‘Yotes aren’t facing the Detroit Red Wings in the first round and I couldn’t be happier.
Actually, I probably could.
During Smith’s first real shot at becoming a full-time goalie in the NHL, he posted an impressive .930 save percentage and a 38-18 win/loss record.
However, despite many fans calling Smith the “Anti-Bryz” after coming through in the Coyotes’ overtime victory over the Blackhawks on Thursday night, let’s all take a step back.
Ilya Bryzgalov, the team’s goaltender from 2007 to 2011, was a regular-season machine in the crease, but choked under pressure when the team reached the playoffs.
In each game of the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals, Smith allowed a goal in the closing seconds of regulation — and both sent the game to overtime. Smith excelled in game one, but failed to produce a similar result in game two.
That said, allow me to set the record straight: I believe in the Phoenix Coyotes. I believe in Mike Smith. I believe coach Dave Tippett’s squad will band together and finally reach the second round of the playoffs.
I also wish it were easier to believe, but then again, when has anything rewarding ever been easy?