According to Craig Morgan of AZSports among others, Coyotes’ netminder Mike Smith is now week-to-week with a lower body injury. Smith suffered the injury on Tuesday when he “got twisted up” making a save. He was removed from the game and though the team says it isn’t severe, he’ll undergo additional testing when the team returns home.
Smith is now 34 and may have his best and healthiest hockey behind him. After suiting up in at least 60 games from 2013-15, he only started 32 last season due to core muscle surgery. While the former Vezina nominee played well in his limited role, just two years ago saw the worst season of his career. In 2014-15 the netminder saw his GAA balloon to 3.16 while his save percentage dropped to a middling .904.
Louis Domingue will take over once again as the starter during Smith’s absence, a role which he embraced last season. In 39 games, the young netminder put up a .912 save percentage with a 2.75 GAA. While those numbers are not elite by any means, they are encouraging for a 23-year old in his first real taste of the grind of an NHL schedule.
If the Coyotes are to compete for the playoffs this season, they’ll need Domingue to not only perform well in these next few weeks, but prove that he can handle a full load for the season. Smith would be an excellent second option once he’s healed fully and could lend support and guidance to the younger netminder as he finds his footing in the NHL.