The Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Smith is the star of Arizona this week, as he became the 11th goalie in NHL history to score a goal when he notched one in a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
Highlight goal aside, Smith's good start to the season, as he's tied for third in the league with five wins, has assuaged some concern after he posted a disappointing campaign last year, in which he struggled to reach the same level of play he displayed the previous year. With such a contrast in performance between the last two years, the question became: Which Smith was the real one?
The nine-year veteran has answered that question with his play this year, and pointed to the lockout as the biggest reason for the down season not only for himself, but for other goalies across the league.
"There were a lot of good goalies that are usually up in the top 5, top 10 in the league in all the categories, and it seemed they weren't there at all," Smith told Arizona Sports 620's Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta. "It took me some time to really realize, ‘Hey, it's not just me that's not off to a good start. There's a lot of good goalies that had slow starts also.' I really believe it was because of that four month layoff."
Smith added that a regular schedule and more time to prepare would allow him to perform to his true ability this season.
"I was really excited about this year, having a full season, a full camp, and having a really good summer to get ready for the start of the season," Smith said. "I came in healthy and ready to prove I'm still a number one goalie in this league, and so far it's going pretty well."