The Phoenix Coyotes are currently clinging to the last wild card slot in the Western Conference playoff picture, with a one-point advantage over the Dallas Stars currently. That makes the news that Mike Smith is out with a lower-body injury a bit more significant.
Smith was knocked out of Monday night's game against the New York Rangers in the latter half of the third period. He was seen by doctors in Pittsburgh earlier Tuesday and was listed as day-to-day by the team, with more evaluation to come.
According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7, the Coyotes' flagship radio station, Smith's recovery could take two weeks:
Hearing Coyotes Goalie Mike Smith has a leg strain and will be out at least two weeks.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) March 25, 2014
That could be bad, if that is indeed the case. The team has held firm with its day-to-day assessment however.
The somewhat good news so far is that it isn't as serious as it was believed to be Monday. Smith was rolling around and appeared to be in severe pain on the ice after Derick Brassard fell on him.
The bad news is the Coyotes play the Penguins Tuesday night. Smith won't play. Phoenix also has games Thursday against the Devils and Saturday against fellow wild card team Minnesota Wild. These are crucial games, as they all will be from here on out.
If this is a lingering issue, it could be a disaster for the Coyotes.
Backup Thomas Greiss has only made 16 appearances this season, performing capably, but sporadically. He gave up two goals on nine shots in the Yotes' overtime loss to the Rangers Monday.
The team has called up former first-round pick Mark Visentin on an emergency basis to fill in. He has no NHL experience yet.
Smith has had his ups and downs this year, but he has performed well of late, including a .924 save percentage so far in March. The Coyotes have points in 10 of Smith's last 16 appearances this season as well.
The veteran netminder is a key asset for the team going forward. Phoenix has to find a way to weather this storm and hope that Smith gets better in a hurry. Without him, it could be tough sledding ahead.
Smith has made 62 appearances this season. The Canadian Olympian has posted a .915 save percentage and 2.61 goals-against average to go with a 27-21-10 record.