B efore Tuesday night’s game against Detroit, Nashville’s Craig Smith last scored a goal in last season’s finale at Colorado.
After a 14 goal, 36 point rookie performance, Smith was in what can easily be described as a sophomore slump.
Rolling into the matchup against the Red Wings, Smith had appeared in all 16 of Nashville’s games this season and was the only forward to have played in all games and not score a goal.
It’s been a slow season all around for Smith. After Barry Trotz criticized his play after Nashville’s opening night shootout loss to Columbus, Smith appeared in 11 games before even registering a point. By comparison, he had four points in the first two games last season.
The one area that Smith was having success, however, was the shootout – an area in which Nashville head coach Barry Trotz played him in order to try to gain some confidence on the season.
This week, however, Craig Smith appeared to turn a corner. He was positioning better. He was zipping around the ice. He was putting shots on net. In Monday’s 6-5 loss to Colorado, Smith got his second point on the year.
Finally in the first period of Tuesday night’s game on the power play, Smith tickled the twine to give the Predators a goal advantage.
“One of the things with Craig [Smith] was that he was a little bit all over the place,” Trotz said. “He wasn’t getting production. We kept him in the shootout, which gave him more focus. The first one he stumbled. The next one, I think it was against San Jose, he scored. He’s been good in the shootout, which helps his confidence. Getting a goal today will also help his confidence.”
“It felt good,” Smith said. “Colin (Wilson) made a good pass. I hit the open net and put it in.”
Photo: Sarah Fuqua