Phoenix Coyotes: Mike Smith's March Struggles Are Not Here to Stay

Ian BarryCorrespondent IIIMarch 13, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 11:  Goaltender Mike Smith #41 of the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Arena on February 11, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Blackhawks 3-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images


Phoenix Coyote fans should not be worried about the team’s awful start to March. While February was a dominate month for the Coyotes, the slump in March is just a slump, and not a sign of how the season will end.

The Coyotes took the month of February by storm. The Coyotes shot up the standings with a record of 11-0-1, depending heavily on their goalie, Mike Smith, and Smith delivered solid goaltending all month.

Smith had individual stats that were impressive for any NHL goalie. He won all eleven of his starts in the month. During Smith’s eleven game winning streak, he posted a 1.42 goals against average and stopped 315 of 331 shots.

When Smith and the Coyotes hit the month of March, they had plenty of confidence after their February success. March was not as kind to the Coyotes, as they started the month with a five game losing streak.

With Smith never having any real NHL success prior to his time in Phoenix, many people believed that the March slump was a sign that the wheels were about to fall off. The more plausible reasoning for Smith’s rough start to March is that he was worn out from all the work in February.

With the struggles in March, Smith got pulled and sat several times, which gave him chances to get some rest. Smith showed Coyote's fans that he is still an elite goaltender when he put an end to the team’s 0-4-1 skid. 

The Coyotes were hosting the Sharks and were looking to end their skid, because they were losing ground in the tight Western Conference. Smith came up huge for Phoenix with a shutout in a game that  the Sharks dominated offensively. The Sharks out-shot the Coyotes 42-29, but Smith had an answer for everything the Sharks threw his way.

In his next start, Smith was in goal for a 5-4 loss to the Nashville Predators, where the Coyotes came up a little short in an offensive battle.

With some early struggles in March, some fans may have started to doubt Smith and his ability to lead the team into the playoffs. While the results have not been good in March, Smith has shown that he is still the same elite goaltender that he has been for the Coyotes all season.

Phoenix fans need to be patient and trust Smith. With Smith in net, the Coyotes will make the playoffs, and, hopefully, help the Coyotes get past the first round for the first time in a long time.