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Power Rankings: Coyotes on a roll with Bryzgalov replacement Smith

by | CBSSports.com NHL Blogger

New Coyotes goalie Mike Smith has the seventh-best save percentage in the NHL. (US Presswire)  
New Coyotes goalie Mike Smith has the seventh-best save percentage in the NHL. (US Presswire)  

Updated Feb. 13

I can't keep track of the number of times I've wanted to give up on the Phoenix Coyotes' playoff chances, only to watch as Dave Tippett's bunch works its way back into the postseason picture, just as it has done during a recent five-game winning streak. And it's a winning streak against some pretty good teams, too.

The Coyotes enter the week in the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference after falling toward the bottom of the conference last week, and it keeps alive the chances that Tippett can get his team into the playoffs for a third consecutive season, seemingly always overcoming the odds and the less-than-ideal situation facing them in Phoenix.

The long list of odds always stacked against was made longer this season when the club had to replace goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, one of the biggest parts of their success over the past two years. They went into the season with Mike Smith, a free agent signed away from the Tampa Bay Lightning over the summer, as their No. 1 goalie.

Not only has Smith surprisingly outperformed Bryzgalov this season, he also owns the seventh-best save percentage in the NHL, helping to again make the Coyotes one of the toughest teams in the NHL to score upon.


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