Since April 12, the Boston Bruins, and any team that has played them, have experienced the resurgence of Taylor Hall, but in case you haven’t been paying attention all season, Hall’s current linemate Craig Smith has proved to be another great move by Bruins GM Don Sweeney. Smith has fit in perfectly on and off the ice for the Boston Bruins and his double-overtime winner in Game 3, has given the Bruins a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead with a win in Game 4 of their first-round series with the Washington Capitals.
“Well, I think five-on-five scoring,” Sweeney said back in October when asked what he thought Smith could bring to the Bruins after signing the 6-foot-1, 208-pound winger to a three-year contract for $9.3 million. “Five of the last seven years, he’s topped 20 goals. Everybody advertised him as an absolute true professional. He’s a true right-winger, volume shooter, probably plays best on the second- or third-line role.”
The key part of that description of Smith was ‘true professional’ because Smith has been that and more on and off the ice.
“I always knew he’s a really hard worker and a dangerous scorer in and around the slot,” teammate and Boston Bruins alternate captain Brad Marchand said of Smith Friday morning. “Obviously we don’t play Nashville very much but when we did play him, he was always a difficult guy to play against. He’s always right in your face and would hound the puck and he had a great shot. So, I knew that about him and that hasn’t changed. He’s a phenomenal worker; I love his intensity on the ice and the way he competes on pucks, he’s always dogging it; his second efforts and he goes to the dirty areas.
So, he’s the type of guy you need to win in the playoffs and he’s come up huge for us so far in the last few games and he has all year long. He really came into his own there at the end of the year and him and ‘Krech’ [David Krejci] and ‘Hallsy’ [Taylor Hall], have really worked great. Even more off the ice, he’s such a great dude. He’s loved in the locker room; has a smile on his face all the time and gets along with everybody and just an awesome teammate. So, we love having him here.”
Hall, Krejci, and Smith have given the Boston Bruins that elusive scoring depth and potent second line they haven’t had since the 2013-14 season when Krejci centered Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic. After scoring 13 goals and adding 19 assists in 54 regular-season games, Smith has a goal and an assist in the playoffs as the magic has continued for the recently assembled trio. Hall scored the game-tying goal that helped the Boston Bruins force overtime in Game 3 and had similar praise for his linemate.
“That goal tonight was a classic example of him putting pressure on a guy with his speed and physicality then making a play for a goal afterward,” Hall said. “He’s probably one of the most well-liked guys I’ve ever played with as a teammate. I’m really happy for him tonight.”