Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 4/3/13
GLENDALE, Ariz. Jason LaBarbera was gushing with a long-forgotten feeling Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings. Confidence. Its gratifying to get that feeling again, said LaBarbera, who stopped 39 shots in a 3-1 win at Jobing.com Arena. Its been a while since Ive had that. In a condensed season where numerous Western Conference teams have employed a two-goalie approach to keep things fresh, LaBarbera has been a mainstay at the end of the Coyotes bench, waiting and wondering when his next chance would come. Following a three-game stretch early in the season where he replaced an injured Mike Smith and went 1-2 while allowing nine goals on 87 shots, LaBarbera made just one start over the next 26 games. Was it the right move? On the one hand, LaBarberas shaky play early this season may have felt like a carryover from last seasons so-so performance, understandably shaking the coaching staffs confidence in him. Coyotes goalie coach Sean Burke and coach Dave Tippett have stood fast by the notion that playing Smith regularly gives the team the best chance to win. But Smiths struggles this season have been well-chronicled, and he has talked openly about the mental challenge of playing so regularly. Other goalies -- Vancouvers Cory Schneider, Los Angeles Jonathan Quick and Chicagos Corey Crawford -- have espoused the two-goalie approach in this lockout-shortened season because it has allowed them to stay at the top of their game. So if the Coyotes didnt have confidence in LaBarbera, why didnt they acquire another backup to share the load? And if they didnt feel it was necessary to give Smith more help, will they rethink that belief at the end of the season if they miss the playoffs? All of this analysis is easier in hindsight, of course, but after watching LaBarbera shine on Tuesday, it is fair to wonder what would have happened if the staff hadnt been so quick with the hook on its longtime backup. Barbs is a battler, Tippett said. Hes in there trying hard. Barbs was really good. LaBarbera made his fifth consecutive start on Tuesday with Smith still on injured reserve with what has been reported as whiplash-like symptoms. LaBarbera is 2-1-2 in that stretch and has stopped 170 of 184 shots (92.4 percent). With the Coyotes needing a win in the worst way to have anything close to a realistic shot at the playoffs and to give general manager Don Maloney pause before he sells off pieces at the Wednesday trade deadline -- LaBarbera was at his best, stopping every shot except one that deflected off defenseman Michael Stones chest and into the net. L.A. had scored 15 goals in its last four games, but given a chance to establish a rhythm by playing several consecutive games, LaBarbera said it was easier to rise to the task. Its way easier, he said. Its tough when you play once a month and you put a lot of pressure on yourself. Thats been my role for the last few years. Ive had ups and downs at it, but its kind of been nice the last week and half to get some games and feel good about yourself. It kind of makes me feel like I did when I was a little bit younger and I played a lot. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Luke Maye sends North Carolina to the Final Four with game-winning shot

Singer Darius Rucker cries as South Carolina clinches Final Four berth

Rockets take shot at Westbrook's MVP candidacy

New info shows just how much Las Vegas wants Raiders

Tomlin: Steelers are preparing for Roethlisberger's retirement

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Bills reporter: 'Only a matter of time' before GM Whaley is fired

Report: Patriots, Revis have not discussed possible reunion

Video of LaVar Ball playing basketball surfaces and he doesn't look great

Reporter: Giants 'would not go near' Adrian Peterson

Report: Browns unlikely to give Josh Gordon another chance

Popovich: Owners interfering with player rest is risky

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Box Score 3/24: Waiting on West Virginia

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

With Team USA's victory, World Baseball Classic (finally) lived up to its potential

The NFL distraction playbook

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Box Score 3/23: Team USA wins their first WBC title

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

The NFL distraction playbook

With Team USA's victory the WBC (finally) lived up to its potential

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker