After the playoff magic and the division championship — and the shutout streak that helped enabled both — Coyotes goalie Mike Smith became the poster boy of this newfound triumph.
A perpetual backup with a mediocre resume, he was the Coyotes' ultimate underdog. He overcame consistency and confidence issues to become a bonafide No. 1 while maintaining what's become a trademark easy grin under an umbrella of curls.
Amid all of last season's accomplishments, which peaked with an appearance in the Western Conference finals, Smith was hailed as the stimulus.
He went 11-0 in the month of February to keep the Coyotes in the playoff chase. He engineered a 234:25 shutout streak to help clinch the Pacific Division title and home advantage in the postseason. And once there, he had a .944 save percentage and added three more shutouts.
This was the popular perception, that the Coyotes' ascent was all Smith's handiwork.
And many believed that.
Smith did not.
Defense is key again for Phoenix Coyotes in 2013
Arizona Republic | Jan 20