WILMINGTON, Mass. – Perhaps it’s a nod to Reilly Smith’s burgeoning experience that the young winger didn’t worry when he hit his first offensive dry spell with the Black and Gold.
The 22-year-old went the final four games of October without a point, and didn’t even fire off a single shot on net in three of those four games, after a very promising start to his Bruins career. Interestingly, that cold spell also coincided with fellow ex-Dallas Stars teammate Loui Eriksson’s absence from the lineup with a concussion, and perhaps that affected him given the clear chemistry the two players shared together while skating with Patrice Bergeron.
“You go through little streaks. It’s not like I wasn’t doing anything before. You just try to keep your game as steady as possible,” said Smith, who was part of the package headed to Boston in the Tyler Seguin deal along with Eriksson, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow. “You change a little bit depending on who you’re playing, but otherwise you don’t want to change too much.
The move back to the third line with Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg certainly agrees with him as he’s got three points and five shots on net in those two games.
“It’s good playing with [ Soderberg] and [Kelly], though, because we have good chemistry, and I know where they’re going to be. They’re both guys that go hard to the net and create turnovers.”
Smith’s playmaking has certainly reappeared with a little confidence – as it always does – and his bomb from the slot late in the third period of the victory Thursday over the Florida Panthers was a thing of beauty.
Whatever the season, Smith has picked it up again with points in each of his last three games, and now ranks third on the Bruins with 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in 15 games for the Black and Gold. Amazingly, that’s more points than Smith tallied in 37 games with Dallas last season while serving almost solely in an energy role in his first stint in the NHL.
“It was tough last year when I’d go stretches of eight or nine games without a point," Smith said. "You get down on yourself and your confidence gets low,” said Smith. “But that’s something I’ve worked on this year, to not get too down on myself. You need to keep playing because the scoring chances are still there. You just need to be ready for them.”
His compete level has also risen markedly in the eyes of the Bruins coaching staff.
“To be honest, I’ve thought his last two games have been pretty good going back to the Dallas game,” said coach Claude Julien. “You could see that he played with a lot more intensity. I think for a couple of games he had lost that edge, but when a guy finds it back that quickly then it’s a pretty good sign.
“He’s been a good player for us this year. He’s third on the team in scoring, and I think that says a lot for a young player. I don’t know if it was line changes that sparked his game. I think he just had a good couple of games that really got him back on track.”
It would appear Smith is fully back on track, and is actually toward the head of the class with so many other members of the Bruins struggling offensively to start this season.