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Struggling Smith gets start versus Wild, has ‘got to play better’

Taylor Hall, Mike Smith

Edmonton Oilers’ Taylor Hall (4) scores a goal against Arizona Coyotes’ Mike Smith (41) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz. The Coyotes defeated the Oilers 7-4. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)


Mike Smith will back in the Coyotes’ net tonight when Arizona plays in Minnesota. For his team’s sake, as well as his psyche’s, he’d better improve on a start that’s seen him surrender 16 goals on 90 shots, for a lowly save percentage of .822.

It was thought coach Dave Tippett might stick with backup Devan Dubnyk, who was solid enough to earn the Coyotes a point on Tuesday in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Predators.

But Tippett wants to get his No. 1 tender back in action, and hopefully back in form.

“He’s got to play better,” Tippett said of Smith, per azcentral, “but he can’t play better if he’s sitting in the stands.”

Based on team save percentage, the Coyotes (.852) have had the worst goaltending in the league this season.

“I’m ready,” Smith said. “I’m ready to get back in there and help the team. I haven’t helped the team too much this year, so I’m ready.”