Toughest Coyotes players to stop? Goalie Mike Smith weighs in

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PHOENIX, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes will open the 2013-2014 season this Thursday when thay host the the New York Rangers.

Once again, the Coyotes will be a team looking to win with defense under head coach Dave Tippett as they eye a return to the playoffs after missing out last season.

They will also hope that the offense can improve after a few mediocre seasons.

Last year, the Coyotes finished 21st out of the 30 NHL teams in scoring at 2.52 goals-per-game. Over the offseason, they made a major free agent acquisition by snagging center Mike Ribeiro, who finished fifth in the league in assists. The Coyotes will also look for several young players to take the next step in their game to become potent offensive contributors.

So how is the 2013-2014 Coyote offense looking? 

We asked the man who gets to face them every day in practice, goalie Mike Smith. He gives his take one which players have the best shots and moves, and gives us his pick as a player poised for a big year.

The Coyotes have struggled offensively during your tenure. As a goalie, does that put any added pressure on you?

Smith: "I don’t think so. I think we’ve definitely upgraded getting a guy like Ribeiro. He’s definitely going to help our offense and the power play. Any time you just want to try to keep your team in the game through the stretches in the season when you’re not scoring. You just have to bear down and give the team a chance."

Who has the best wristshot on the team?

Smith: "The best wrister now is the young kid (Chris) Brown. He’s a young guy that just cracked our lineup, but he’s going to be a good player for us. He’s got a real hard, heavy wrister. You’ll see it out there."

Which Coyote has the toughest slapshot to stop?

Smith: "One that likes to think he has a good slapper is Doaner (Shane Doan). It comes very hard, but I’m not sure he knows where it’s going. That makes it pretty difficult for the goalie to stop (laughs)."

Which player would you not want to see coming at you on a breakaway or in a shootout?

Smith: "We have a few guys. You have a guy like Mikkel Boedker or (Radim) Vrbata. Those two guys coming down are pretty skilled. I’m glad they’re on my team."

Who do you feel is the best playmaker on the roster?

Smith: "Ribeiro. We added a dimension that we didn’t have before. A playmaking center that prefers to pass the puck rather than shooting it. He’s a guy that will calm down our power play. He has a lot of poise and will get the puck to a lot of different guys on the team."

Which Coyote do you think is poised for a breakout year?

Smith: "We have a bunch of guys who have bumped around for a few years, but I think a guy like (LauCoyri) Korpikoski, who got a new deal and feels comfortable with the system, will put the puck in the net if you get it to him."