The Bad News: This is another article about Mike Smith.
The Good News: It is not another article about his injured hand.
As we all know, Smith injured his hand during practice yesterday, and will be out about a week. It took a while for all the details to emerge, but I monitored the whole thing mainly here on Raw Charge. In between coming up with some of my own ridiculousness about the ordeal, doing real work, and reading some other stories around the NHL, I noticed the picture of Smith John used here when news of the injury first broke.
Seems like a normal action shot, right? Wrong. Mike Smith was wearing white pads. If you’ve followed the Lightning since
the day the music died that saddening day when our ‘Richie’ left us, and Smith arrived, you know that he has always worn black and blue pads that were highly complementary of the Lightning’s sweaters. Most fans would admit, it looked pretty sharp. How did Smith look in net with them? Eh, you could say not so sharp.
What you may have missed, even if you’ve followed the NHL since the lockout, is that another goalie in the Eastern Conference went from some radically colored pads to plain white pads as well. In 2008, Marc-Andre Fleury went from some pretty bright yellow pads, to some plain-Jane white pads with some gold lining. In fact, his switch was pretty well-publicized (insert NHL/Bettman obsesses over the Penguins OMGZ!! joke here) including a video clip during a Versus broadcast that I was unable to dig up (Insert DTV can’t work the interweb joke here).
What happened at that point was surprising, and fairly remarkable. Despite making the pad switch during a stint on the IR, Fleury came back, new pads in hand, and put up the best numbers of his career, culminating with a Stanley Cup win in 2009. While it’s fair to argue that wins and Goals Against Average are team statistics, it’s impossible to argue that Save Percentage is. Fleury’s Save Percentage during that time frame? Roughly .930%. Compare that to his .907% lifetime. Quite a difference.
It’s a strange coincidence that Smith got hurt with his new pads. Does he come out and finally live up to the potential he was said to have when we acquired him? Does he consider the injury an omen and go back to his familiar black and blue? Does it affect him at all? One thing is for sure: We won’t know for at least a week.