Smith taking on a greater role
Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images
When Zack Smith was bumped up to the second line on Tuesday, it presented an interesting opportunity for the young centre. Not only would he have a chance to see increased ice time, but also be able to play with more pace and creativity alongside Milan Michalek and Jakob Silfverberg.
The experiment appeared to be positive as the line clicked off the bat and played with good speed throughout Tuesday's win. Smith credits much of that chemistry to the skillset of his new linemates.
"Playing with two very skilled players, it's a very different style of game from playing with (Chris) Neil and Colin (Greening). We had some good shifts. We didn't capitalise on any but I thought we had some good chances."
The line's play on Tuesday would certainly lead you to believe that it's just a matter of time before Smith pots his first goal of the season. Through 10 games this season the 24 year old has four assists.
"I'm trying everything. It's definitely something you think about all the time. Maybe just gripping my stick a little tight right now. I'm getting opportunities and chances but they're just not going in," said Smith. "I've gone through it before too but I think as long as you're playing well and getting chances you can't be too upset. There are other parts of my game I can contribute with."
Smith has been a consistent contributor from the outset this season, bringing good energy to whatever line he is playing on. He has added more speed and fluidity to his game this season, and much of that can be attributed to extensive work in the offseason on his skating.
"Everyone — scouts — have told me since midget that I need to improve my skating. Every year I come to camp I feel better and stronger. Confidence is a big thing too. When you're confident, you're always skating well, you're moving your feet. I'm feeling more comfortable out there and it's having an effect on my skating too."
As he continues to generate chances and muck in the tough areas of the rink, it's only a matter of time before Smith removes the monkey from his back. Once that goal is scored, and Smith's stick doesn't rest in so firm a grasp, you can be sure the best is on its way.
Follow Zack on Twitter here.