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Smith's injury has not been welcome news for the Phoenix Coyotes this season
Phoenix has been hit early by an injury bug that has sidelined some important pieces of the team.
Center Martin Hanzal and goalie Mike Smith have been sidelined already with lower body injuries. While all injuries were deemed day-to-day type injuries, any game time lost by starters hurts the team drastically.
We all know of Smith's vast importance to the team. Any length of time that he cannot play will hurt this team significantly. Even though he has gotten off to a poor start this season in his first two games, he is the rock at the back of the defense that the team counts on to make difficult saves and to keep them in games. No offense to Jason LaBarbera, who is a veteran NHL goaltender, but replacing a Vezina award candidate is extremely tough to do and even more so when that goalie is counted on by his team to do so much.
Hanzal is also very valuable as the team's best defensive center. He matches up against the opponent's best offensive center, night in and night out. He is very good in the faceoff circle, is excellent as a defensive center, uses his size well and to his advantage and can score points if put into the right situations to do so. His loss has also been felt as the Coyotes organization is thin at the center position.
Defenseman Rusty Klesla was placed on injured reserve after two games with a lower body injury although he is close to returning according to Coach Dave Tippett. His value is vastly understated in the Coyotes lineup. He is a physical, stay-at-home defenseman that will anchor the third defensive pairing. His shot blocking is solid, he is a consistent penalty killer and he is rugged and tough. A prototypical Dave Tippett defenseman.
Matthew Lombardi was officially placed on injured reserve with an upper body injury and his timetable for return is uncertain although it looks like it will be weeks before we see him lace up the skates again. His speed and knowledge of the game make him dangerous as he always puts himself in good offensive situations that give him the ability to score.
With these injuries, especially the one to Smith, the Coyotes will struggle to play solid, consistent hockey. If the 'Yotes do not stay healthy and players miss a lot of games due to injury, they will not make the playoffs this season. If Smith does not come back and regain a good chunk of his form from last season, the 'Yotes will be in deep trouble.