The Desert Dog Blog: Tippett Won't Let Smith be Scapegoat for Slow Start

Monday, 01.21.2013 / 5:11 PM
Dave Vest

GLENDALE – After back-to-back games over the weekend to start the abbreviated yet jam-packed 2012-13 season, the Coyotes opted not to practice on Monday.

The team will return to the ice on Tuesday to prepare for a home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

The Coyotes are 0-2-0 for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

After Sunday’s 6-4 loss to Chicago, goalie Mike Smith, who has allowed 10 goals in the first two games, said he is to blame for the team’s poor start.

Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett isn’t buying it.

“There’s lots more (blame) to go around in that room,” Tippett said. “Smitty, just like the rest of our group, has to be a little better, but if we play like that we've got no chance.”

Clearly the 2012-13 season is an extraordinary one with 48 games wedged into 14 weeks with only a five-day training camp. Mistakes and sloppy play normally seen in exhibition games are now being witnessed by packed crowds with two points in the standings on the line.

But Tippett said the key to success is embracing the unique situation instead of complaining about it.

“That’s what bothers me,” Tippett said, with a little extra passion in his voice. “Why would we say, ‘Oh, that’s just going to happen.’ Let’s not let it happen. Let’s do something about it. Get your head together and do something about it instead of making the same errors over and over again. That’s what’s frustrating. Just because everybody says it’s going to happen, we should be able to correct that, and we will correct that.”

Smith is looking to repeat the success he had in 2011-12 when he led the team to the Pacific Division championship and the Western Conference final with stingy goaltending. On Sunday night, he showed a different type of leadership by presenting himself as the scapegoat for the 0-2-0 start.

“Unacceptable goaltending (in) both games,” Smith said after I asked him to reflect on the team’s poor start. “I know it’s early in the season (and) it’s a weird season, but there’s no excuse for it. It’s a letdown to the whole team. To score seven goals in two games, you should win both of those. Obviously we need to clean up our game in some areas, but it starts with me and right now it’s not good enough. I’m back there to give the team a chance to win and when goals are going in from all over the ice, it’s deflating to the whole team. It’s got to stop.”

It wasn’t all doom and gloom around the Coyotes after Sunday’s loss. Far from it. The reality is that while yes, it’s a short and hectic season with little room for losing streaks, so far it’s less than 48 hours old.

“There are still a lot of games left,” Smith said. “In a 48-game schedule, you can't dwell on two losses. There's going to be ebbs and flows through the season, but we've got to get our act together here.”

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