Monday Morning Musings: Is Mike Smith back?

Christian Petersen

A look back at an interesting week in Coyotes hockey with thoughts and observations from Managing Editor Jaime Eisner.

The Phoenix Coyotes are all over the place. Some periods, they wipe the ice with their competition, others, they look as if they can't compete.

Last week was no different as the Coyotes sandwiched a pair of victories between two third-period collapses to finish the week .500.

One bright spot was the play of their goaltender Mike Smith. Is he finally showing the traits of the goalie fans saw two years ago?

Before Phoenix finishes the final three games of a four-game road trip, here are a few tidbits and notes from the week that was in Coyotes hockey:

(WARNING: numbers ahead)

- Since February 1, Smith has a 1.78 GAA and a .940 save percentage, both top-5 in the league during that time frame.

- Yet, his record is 4-4-1.

- The third period collapses aren't helping and the goaltender has to shoulder some of the blame, but more often than not, the defensemen are leaving him out to dry (see: first two Capitals goals on Saturday).

- What's extremely encouraging for Smith is his period by period save percentages. Since Feb. 1 : 1.000, .923, 1.000, 1.000, .947, .857, 1.000, 1.000, 1.000, .857, .929, 1.000, .889, .900, 1.000, 1.000*, 1.000, 1.000, .636, 1.000, 1.000, 1.000, .857, .917, 1.000, 1.000, 1.000 and .786.

- Not a lot of terrible periods there -- an indication periods in which the Coyotes give up goals are also periods they give up a lot of shots. Logical, right?

- Is he back? The sample size is too small to say for sure. However, he is trending in the right direction.

- Martin Erat is a smart, sensible addition to a Coyotes team short on winger depth. He can provide solid second line offense this season and top-9 offense in the future. Phoenix did not give up much to get him either.

- He will be the 7th highest paid forward currently under contract for next season with a salary of $2,250,000 (per CapGeek).

- Brandon Gormley and Andy Miele earned call-ups this week. We'll see if they get into any game action, but rosters have expanded so fans may see more of the waiver exempt minor leaguers up with the main club.

- There are only two Coyotes players who have positive possession numbers 5v5 and in close game situations while playing against above average competition this season -- Rob Klinkhammer and David Moss.

* indicates five-minute overtime.

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