The 2013 Boston Bruins were a team that quickly became a force to be reckoned with. As the season went along, it became evident that they were poised to make a run at the Stanley Cup.
That is exactly what happened.
The Bruins made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in June, but fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. Soon after, the B’s began an overhaul during the offseason, which was interesting for a team who was just two games away from hoisting the greatest trophy in all of sports.
They did not re-sign Andrew Ference, they let Nathan Horton sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and they made a blockbuster trade that sent Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to the Dallas Stars.
Those stories have been well documented over the last several months, not to mention the big names that the Bruins brought in to fill the voids left by those players. Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson have certainly lived up to expectations in the early stages of the 2013-14 NHL season.
However, there is still another player who flew under the radar this preseason and has not received the recognition that he deserves. That player is Reilly Smith.
The 22-year-old right winger came over with Eriksson in the deal that involved Seguin and Peverley. Smith, drafted by the Stars in the third round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, is a solid two-way player with deceptive speed. As the preseason progressed, word out of training camp was that he was one of the front runners to nab a spot on the third line.
That was one of the biggest question marks heading into this season. Last year, the inconsistent play of Chris Kelly’s line became problematic to the point where the fourth line averaged more minutes of ice time. The Bruins realized that they needed to go younger on that line when they gave Chris Bourque the starting left-wing job last season. Even though that move did not work out, they were on to something.
Smith, despite his young age, has had experience playing at the NHL level. Prior to this season, he skated in 40 games for Dallas, recording three goals and six assists. He has played in both games for the Bruins to begin the year. He recorded his first point as a member of the Black and Gold on Saturday night when he assisted on a goal scored by Jordan Caron against the Detroit Red Wings.
The line that consists of Smith-Kelly-Caron has looked pretty good so far for Boston. Originally, Carl Soderberg won the job with Smith to be the wingers on that line with Kelly. However, he has started the season on injured reserve due to an ankle ailment. When he returns from injury, one of the biggest questions will be whether or not to insert him right into the lineup. The third line as presently constructed has done nothing to earn a breakup. This is a situation that we will keep an eye on.
Although he may not be a big name, Smith will fit in nicely with the Bruins on that third line. He will use his speed, play a two-way style of hockey, and battle along the boards.
He sounds like a Bruin already.