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Top 25 Under 25: #3 Reilly Smith: Boy Am I Glad To See You

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation 2014 NHL Preview

Player Change from 2013 Mike Sarah Cornelius Sean Servo Nolan Dan Giesse Kristian
Reilly Smith +8 (11 in 2013) 3 3 3 4 2 2 3 1 2

After coming over from Dallas in the Rich Peverley deal Reilly Smith turned quite a few heads in his first season with the Bruins. Smith far exceeded expectations and made a sizable jump in our ranking with no votes higher than 4 (from yours truly) and even a vote for first.

Smith began the season on the Bruins third line along with Jordan Caron and Chris Kelly. After four games in which Smith registered just an assist and two shots, he replaced Brad Marchand on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson. While playing on that line (four games), Smith registered a goal, three assists and seven shots.

After an injury to Loui Eriksson, Marchand rejoined Bergeron and, along with Smith, they formed the PBR line. That line dominated the NHL like few others finishing second in percentage of possession and goals for (among trios with 41 games played together) all while facing the toughest competition the opposition could throw at them.

But that wasn't the case early on. In fact, the first rendition of PBR only lasted five games. Smith spent much of November with Kelly and Carl Soderberg and suddenly he began to find the back of the net with regularity. That hot streak led to being reunited with Bergeron and Marchand where he remained for the rest of the year.

Smith achieved varying degrees of success scoring following a torrid first month back on Bergeron's line. Like any other player his season was susceptible to fluctuating a shooting percentage:


Smith also made a tremendous impact on the Bruins revamped power play and finished eighth in the NHL in points per 60 minutes with the man advantage.

It's hard to extrapolate Smith's individual contributions to the success the Bruins saw with him on the ice - such is the issue with playing with Patrice Bergeron for so much of the season. Smith spent about 30% of his 5v5 time away from Bergeron and saw a drop in possession percentage as well as scoring. It's a small sample size, though, and given his ability to produce against the top competition, he's shown tremendous promise. Even if he wasn't the one driving the bus on the PBR line (something that should never be held against him), he's exhibited that he can hang with his linemates and produce. There's something to be said about the value of a guy who can thrive in that sort of role. And that's why his return to the Bruins was so welcomed.

With two of the Bruins' regular right wingers gone and another moved to a different line, Smith brings an element of familiarity to the forward corps. He also adds to the Bruins right wing coffers which is still not ideal, but far better than it was just a week ago when Ville Leino was a very real possibility to replace him. The Bruins run on the PBR line and to have it back fully intact is a huge boost to the team's cup hopes.