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At the Rink blog

Coyotes expect Smith will start in goal Friday

Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 3:10 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  / 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

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2012-2013 At the Rink blog
Coyotes expect Smith will start in goal Friday

According to the Phoenix Coyotes, starting goaltender Mike Smith will return from a lower-body injury and start Friday night against the Dallas Stars.

"He's going to play tomorrow, barring anything between now and then," Coyotes goaltending coach Sean Burke told NHL.com Thursday. "He'll go out in the morning skate tomorrow and if everything goes well he'll play tomorrow night in Dallas."

Smith, who enjoyed a breakout year last season in Phoenix when he set career highs in games (67), wins (38), minutes (3.902), goals-against average (2.21) and save percentage (.930), missed four games with the injury. He initially suffered a groin injury during pregame warm-ups before the Jan. 23 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was pulled from that game after facing four shots and was officially placed on the injured reserve list Monday.

According to Dave Vest, the Coyotes senior director of news content, Smith participated in the team's optional skate Thursday before declaring himself ready to play.

"It's gotten a lot better over the last few days, so I'm excited to get back in the lineup. I'm ready," Smith said.

In his absence, the Coyotes suffered losses to the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings in which backup Jason LaBarbera stopped 57 of 65 shots for an .877 save percentage. Following those two losses, Phoenix decided to replace LaBarbera as starter with Chad Johnson, who was called up from the American Hockey League's Portland Pirates on Monday. In the two games Johnson started, Phoenix went 1-0-1 with Johnson allowing two goals, including Nail Yakupov's overtime winner on the power play for the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

"I think we've played a lot better as of late ... so it's an exciting time to get back in," Smith said.

Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres