By Erik Erlendsson
Tampa Bay Online
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Mike Smith, who was selected to the ECHL All-Star Game as a rookie in 2002-03, slammed his stick and glove to the ice in frustration and pain. The Lightning goaltender had just taken a puck off the top of his knee that took him out of the crease for a few rotations during practice at Lakeshore Arena in suburban Toronto.
Considering the number of pucks Smith has seen this season, it’s a wonder an errant shot didn’t find the same sliver of unprotected area underneath his padding before.
Though the hockey season still is in the first leg of a marathon course, Smith has proven to be the reliable goaltender the team believed it acquired from Dallas at the trade deadline last season, and the goalie they signed to a two-year contract extension over the summer despite never having been a No. 1 goaltender.
“From training camp, he’s been like this – he hasn’t played a bad game yet,” Lightning coach Barry Melrose said.