Readers Rating: 7.5
SCOC Rating: 7.4
Craig Smith provided the Boston Bruins with decent stretches of secondary scoring and became an integral part of the roster as the season progressed.
Smith’s first season with the B’s was overall a good season. In 54 games, he registered 13 goals and 19 assists for a total of 32 points. He also recorded a career-high plus/minus of +21.
As Smith started the year on the third line, he netted a few goals here and there.
In the early parts of the 2020-21 season, Smith had two six-game pointless streaks as he struggled to find his footing
Smith really didn’t find his groove until he moved up to the second line with David Krejci.
Once on the second line, Smith’s worth came into focus. His most productive stretch with his new line came from March 18 to April 18; during those 16 games, he netted six goals and accumulated 12 assists.
The trade deadline addition of Taylor Hall gave a boost to the Bruins’ top six, and to the second line in particular: that revamped second line posted 45 points in 16 games.
Smith’s totals were less than those of his linemates as he registered 10 points to their 21 points (Krejci) and 14 points (Hall), but he was still an asset to the line.
Compared to Hall and Krejci, his output did look spotty, as he had two separate five-game pointless streaks after the trade deadline.
However, during that post-deadline time frame, he posted his best plus/minus rating of the season and put 34 shots on net. He also had three multi-point nights, including a hat trick.
Overall, Smith’s biggest value was at 5v5, as 26 of his 32 points came at even-strength. He did add four goals and two assists on the power play as well.
Given the Bruins’ prior struggles with even-strength scoring outside the top line, Smith certainly provided a boost.
In the playoffs, Smith matched his best career postseason with two goals and three assists for a total of five points. He also had his best shooting percentage at 9.5%. Furthermore, all of his playoff points came at even strength.
Three of his points came during Round One against the Washington Capitals. Smith had his best game of the playoff in Game 3, when he netted the double overtime winner and picked up the primary assist on Hall’s even-strength goal to tie the game in the second period.
Smith suffered a groin injury during Round Two’s Game 1 against the New York Islanders. He bounced back to return for Game 3 and netted a goal to help the Bruins win.
But Smith couldn’t provide any additional scoring for the remainder of the series when most of the goals came from the top line and we all know the rest of how things went.
He had a slow start, but Smith became a vital piece of the puzzle for the Bruins last season. He added a secondary scoring touch that the team had been lacking, even if the results weren’t as consistent as we might have hoped.
The upcoming season is fast approaching, and considering how Smith, Hall, and Krejci looked excellent at times last season, it’s a shame we won’t get to see more of it this year.
As is the case with Hall, it will be interesting to see how Smith will adapt to a new second-line center — hopefully he can continue to produce at 5v5 while also adding in a little more consistency.