Thomas Greiss will start in goal for the Coyotes on Tuesday against the Flames. The day off will allow Mike Smith to get some extra practice time in with goalie coach Sean Burke -- and a chance to clear his mind.

The move does not portend a bigger role for Greiss, however. The Coyotes like him in his current role as the backup, and coach Dave Tippett reiterated firmly on Monday that backup is where Greiss is going to stay.

"We're not close to thinking about a change," Tippett said. "Not even close."

In immediate terms, the day off makes sense for Smith because of the distraction created by Team Canada's announcement of its Olympic roster on Tuesday morning. Smith, who made no secret of his desire to be chosen, was picked for the Canadian roster despite the rough patch he's endured recently.

But Tippett also hopes the break will impact Smith in the long term. His No. 1 goalie hasn't been himself this season, and the Coyotes will go nowhere if he doesn't rediscover at least some of his 2011-2012 magic.

"I think he'll work through it," Tippett said. "He wants to be a top goaltender and he knows he hasn't played to that level yet, but I think we can play better in front of him, too."

That's a point that bears repeating. Smith has been criticized often this season, and he admits plenty of it is justified.

"I've played some stretches of good hockey, but not consistently enough as far as I'm concerned," he said. "For the last few games, there have been not enough big saves at important times where it can make the difference. As a top goalie in this league, and as a No. 1 guy, those saves separate you from being a mediocre goalie to being a top-echelon goalie."

There is no debating that Smith's stats aren't where they need to be in the first year of a six-year, $34 million deal he signed in June. He is tied for 22nd in the league in save percentage (.911) and ranks a humbling 36th in goals-against average (2.89).

But the team in front of Smith has also been a major problem, because the team in front of him doesn't bear any resemblance to the one that advanced to the Western Conference finals two seasons ago.

Turnovers have been a consistent problem, the Coyotes are allowing 33 shots a game (26th in the NHL) and the penalty-killing unit has been poor most of the year, partly due to the loss of Boyd Gordon in free agency and partly due to the fact that Phoenix does not have enough effective defensemen to man that unit.