Smith continues strong playoffs with game-winner

Smith continues strong playoffs with game-winner
May 3, 2014, 6:45 pm
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BOSTON - Maybe Reilly Smith was just bored with the regular season.

The Bruins forward went 16 games without a goal from February into March and only scored two goals from Jan. 30 to April 13. But Smith has turned things around in the playoffs.

That's a testament to the player Smith has become at a young age, and also a testament to the trust the Bruins coaching staff has in Smith. Smith had plenty of critics and detractors during his rough stretch, but Claude Julien stuck with him on the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

"I think it’s been through the course of the year — this guy here has been, like I said before, he plays like a veteran," Julien said. "And he’s very calm in those kind of situations. You don’t see him make too many big mistakes because he’s a smart hockey player, and some guys have it. It’s a knack he’s had from the start, and with his experience playing with guys like [Patrice] Bergeron and [Brad] Marchand, he’s just gotten better.

So, Smith must have fixed something in his game from the end of the regular season to now, right?

"No not really," he said. "I think it’s, sometimes the puck is going in the net and sometimes it’s not. I just tried to stick with what got me success this year. The puck won’t go in the net all the time but you stick to what got you success and what you do well then sooner or later you are going to get back to your game and the positives are going to start showing."

Smith did score 20 goals for the Bruins this season, albeit most of them coming in the first half of the year. But in the postseason, he has three goals including one in each of the Bruins' first two games against the Canadiens. He's a plus-five through the first two games of this series.

And the one in Game 2 was a full effort from one end of the ice to the other. Smith broke up the Canadiens' rush on one end by knocking Brendan Gallagher off the puck, and then with the B's on the attack, he received a nice pass from Torey Krug that just slipped under Gallagher's stick. Smith blasted a wrist shot in the top right corner where Price couldn't get to in time.

There was your Bruins lead - and this time they wouldn't give it up.

"There was a huge momentum swing in that third period as soon as we got that first goal and it kind of just built up until that moment," Smith said. "So there was a lot of emotions and a lot of passion going in to that. I was obviously just really happy that it went in to the back of the net because, especially in this series, [Carey] Price has stood on his head a couple times where we thought we had for sure goals and we he has made big saves."

With the Bruins staring at a 3-1 deficit in the third period, not many could envision a Bruins player stepping up to the podium wearing the Old Time Hockey B's jacket. But sure enough, there was Smith sporting it with a smile on his face.

"Absolutely, I don’t really expect it from how the game started," Smith said. "It’s tough when we’re taking a lot of penalties and there is not a lot of flow in the game. It seems like when it got down to it, five one five, I think we played well and we definitely dominated the third period. You know, get a couple bounces and I guess you’re wearing this jacket."

Bergeron, who center's Smith's line, sees the effort out of him on a daily basis.

"He’s got the right mentality. He wants to get better; he wants to be a difference out there. I think even in that stretch he was still making the right plays and playing well. I love playing with him; he’s always in the right spot making great plays. Right now, he’s played some great hockey. He’s really fighting, battling, making some right plays, going to the front of the net, making some great back checks, and that’s what you need."