The Bruins have made it a point to shoot down any mention of the phrase “throw-in” when it comes to talking about forward Reilly Smith. The young winger, who the B’s acquired as part of a blockbuster trade with Dallas over the summer, has been one of the club’s most consistent players this season.
Boston center Patrice Bergeron knows a thing or two about consistency, and he’s had a chance to see Smith on an up-close basis and can’t help but be impressed. Bergeron’s line has seen steady improvement since Smith replaced the injured Loui Eriksson, and Bergeron likes what he sees out of Smith.
“When Loui got hurt with another concussion, Reilly Smith joined my line along with [Brad Marchand].He’s been great. He’s been great all year actually,” Bergeron recently said as part of his ESPN.com diary. “He’s a young guy. Usually you don’t want to put too much expectation on guys like that. It’s not fair. They don’t deserve so much pressure on them. He’s handled it pretty well.”
Eriksson went down with his second concussion of the season on his first shift against Pittsburgh on Dec. 7. Smith stepped in immediately and scored a goal and added an assist in an eventual win over the Penguins in that game. Smith has 10 goals and four assists since joining the Bergeron line, which has become a vital weapon for the Bruins gain.
“Every time he’s stepped on the ice, he’s creating something,” Bergeron added. “He works hard. He wants to learn. He’s doing all the things right for him to become a professional and great hockey player for years to come. Off the ice, he’s pretty quiet actually. But he’s starting to talk a little more, which is great to see he’s feeling a little more comfortable now.”
Eriksson is progressing well in his recovery from the concussion and is back to skating with the team. His impending return might make for a difficult decision for the Bruins as to what to do with the lines.