Craig Smith calls it simple and coach Barry Trotz calls it exciting. That’s how they describe Smith’s improved offensive productivity. The third-year Predators center has 12 points (eight goals, four assists) over the past 14 games. “I’ve just been trying to find open ice and keep my feet moving,” Smith said. “I don’t like to stop much if I don’t have to. Keep my speed, it’s as simple as that.” It certainly does not sound complex, but staying on the move for a young player in the NHL is a major adjustment, Trotz said. The coach has watched Smith post seven points over the past seven games after going through a stretch of eight games (Oct. 26-Nov. 15) when he scored only one goal. “Staying on the move is one of the things that young players learn, and it’s hard to describe unless you’re on the ice playing the game,” Trotz said. “It’s that there is so much pressure now in this game that if you don’t learn how to keep a little bit of speed going, the backside pressure just eats you up.” Smith scored the third goal in Nashville’s 4-2 win over Calgary on Tuesday while on the power play. He leads the team with 14 goals and is third in points with 28. “You try to guess on the right things and play within the system, but there are certain times when you’ve got to try something different,” Smith said. “You do that by keeping your feet moving and entering the zone with speed. You can’t score every goal dumping the puck every time. You have to take the puck in and you have to execute.” Smith’s recent productivity is something the Predators have been looking for since picking the Madison, Wis., native in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. But it did not come until he experienced another drought after the eight games in which he scored only one goal. He went without a goal or assist in five consecutive games from Nov. 27-Dec. 5.
Predators' Craig Smith gets offensive game moving
Tennessean | Jan 16