At the beginning of the season I never would have believed that (A) the Arizona Coyotes would have been in a playoff spot in the beginning of February, and (B) their active goalies would be down to Louis Domingue, Niklas Treutle and Marek Langhamer. But with the long-term injury to Mike Smith and the very much season ending Achilles injury to Anders Lindback, the Coyotes have been testing their depth. It has been a wild ride.
Let's see how the Coyotes got to where they are this season.
Mike Smith: Starter, Injured Reserve: December 14th, 2015
Abdominal Core Surgery; Recovery 8-10 weeks
Returned March 12th, 2016 after missing 40 games.
Mike Smith has been down for almost 13 weeks since they announced he was injured. He was inconsistent at the beginning of the season, but that could be a result of playing injured for a significant amount of time before he finally went down for surgery.
Smith played 22 games with a record of 10-9-1 and a .901 save percentage. He had a goals against average of 3.06, which, put mildly, is less than ideal. Last season he did have a goals against average of 3.16 in 62 games with a save percentage of .904 and a record of 14-42-5. That could have been an indicator of how bad the defense was, or that he had an injury then as well.
Smith did return to the line up March 12th against the Edmonton Oilers and posted a 44 gave shutout in the 4-0 victory. There was a scary moment when Adam Cracknell went feet first into the goaltender late into the second period but Smith didn't let that shake him up. He seemed a little rusty and winded after long sequences but it was nice to see Smith back at it, and giving Domingue a much needed break.
With Smith down, the goaltending position was open for anyone to take.
Anders Lindback: Back Up, Injured Reserve: February 16th, 2016
Ruptured Achilles Tendon, Season Ending
Anders Lindback had a rough first season with the Coyotes. He was inconsistent at best, and when it came down to who was going to take over for Smith, he faltered under the pressure and lost the starting job to rookie Louis Domingue. In 19 games he posted a 5-7-1 record with a .894 save percentage and a 3.11 goals against average.
With his disappointing performance in the Columbus game December 17th, he was pushed back into the background as Louis Domingue took hold of the reins, seemingly for the duration of the year.
Lindback’s injury was a freak accident, but a ruptured Achilles Tendon is no joke of an injury. It is at least four to six months of recovery time (unless you are Erik Karlsson.) This could seriously jeopardize his job status for next season with him being a UFA. I wish Lindback all the best, but this could be a rough off season for him and his career.
Louis Domingue: Springfield Starter to Coyotes Starter To Coyotes Backup
Louis Domingue is a young goalie, He is (just) 24 and starting full time, having played 1527:36 minutes. In his 35 games he is 14-15-5, but when he took the starting position in December he was 7-2-1. His first two losses were picked up when he came in to relieve Anders Lindback.
Domingue is a calm goalie who is very positional. He doesn't lose the puck often and is a strong skater when he does leave the crease. He doesn't misplay the puck often and has made some amazing saves to try to keep the Coyotes in games.
Before Lindback's injury everyone was trying to figure out what would happen once Smith returned. With Lindback out it seems like Domingue could go to a backup role behind Smith given the playoffs are all but out of reach. What happens next season will be the big question.
Niklas Treutle: Springfield Backup to Springfield Starter to Coyotes Backup to Springfield Starter
Poor Niklas Treutle. Dave Tippett admitted after the Anaheim Ducks game on the 3rd of March that he was not ready to start in the NHL, but Domingue needed the night off. After allowing five goals on sixteen shots, his night was over and hopefully there was no lasting damage to his development or psyche.
Treutle has posted a .907 save percentage and a 2.95 goals against average with Springfield. He has a record of 9-13-5 with the Falcons. He is a calm goalie but was rattled by a misplay of the puck that caused a goal, a power play goal allowed and followed it up by shooting a puck into the crowd in the first five minutes of his first NHL game.
Marek Langhamer: Rapid City Rush Backup to Springfield Backup to Springfield Starter to Coyotes Backup To Springfield Backup
If Louis Domingue is young, Marek Langhamer is practically a baby at 21. After Treutle's disastrous outing the Coyotes sent him back to Springfield and brought up Langhamer.
Having watched him in two training camps, he is a goalie with rough edges who needs to be groomed before he can consider the NHL stage. He did take his WHL junior team to two Memorial Cup runs, which is a good sign of things to come.
Hopefully Langhamer will just be a bench warmer and not be pressed into service into a game. With how Treutle was left out to dry by the defense and ultimately the coaching staff, it would not bode with for a goalie that young.
What does it mean?
The Coyotes have hit the bottom of their goalie depth this season and, until February, stayed competitive. The Coyotes may look to the UFA market for a backup for next season, or they will put that job into the hands of a very deserving Louis Domingue.
It's too early to tell if Smith is on his way out with the organization, who is ultimately married to his contract. A tandem of Domingue and Smith next season would be a great option as they start to move further with the rebuild. But only the Coyotes Brain Trust(tm) know what is going to happen going forward.
What do you think of the goalie situation this season and will it effect the team going into the off-season?