I’ve been personally waiting all season to see one of my favorite players in Nashville Predators history erupt offensively again.
Even though the Nashville Predators haven’t had a shortage of offensive production this season from all over their roster, Craig Smith has been one puzzling absence to that .
The Predators are 5th in the league in goals per game at 3.47 and 4th in the league in shots on goal per game at 33.7. They’re getting plenty of offensive pressure generated, but it hasn’t translated to them currently being in the playoff picture as they prepare to finish off their four-game road trip on Saturday night against the Boston Bruins.
Smith has always been a virtual lock to score 20-plus goals since being drafted in 2009 by the Nashville Predators. Since the 2013-14 season, Smith has only finished under 20 goals once. His shooting percentage is usually around 10 percent, but this season it’s all the way down at 5.8 percent.
Despite the goals not being there, Smith has still contributed to this team in other ways. He’s a hard worker on the forecheck, doesn’t fall asleep defensively and is a plus-11 despite only having 13 points.
It’s only a matter of time
I truly believe it’s inevitable until Smith finds a hot streak and starts hammering home more goals. I’m pleased to see him getting time on the power play as he’s one of those guys that works hard for possession and makes smart plays.
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I’ve always loved Smith’s energy he brings to the team. That hasn’t been absent this season despite the team as a whole sometimes looking lackadaisical and asleep at the wheel. The Predators need Smith’s high energy more than ever as they try to make up ground in the Central Division.
Smith has three goals and four points in the last two games. His horrible puck luck that he’s had for most of this season seems to be subsiding finally. It’s only a matter of time before his oddly low shooting percentage rounds back into form, and with that will come more goals.
Another thing with Smith is he is an aging player. It eventually catches up to everyone, but I don’t think that’s the reason that his numbers are down. For me it’s more a product of their constant shifting of lineups that has thrown chemistry off for a lot of players.
Smith and Kyle Turris are an excellent duo and they need to be playing alongside each other as much as possible. Once Viktor Arvidsson and Mikael Granlund return to the starting lineup, Smith and Turris need to remain on the same line together with Rocco Grimaldi.
Can Smith rally for another solid season?
I absolutely think Smith can rally to have a highly-productive offensive season and help the Predators remain a top offensive team. Even before he scored for the first time in over a month just a couple days ago, he was already looking like he was returning to form.
It would be no surprise to me at all if Smith rallies to score 20-plus goals again. He’s getting power play time, the lineup is about to be back at full strength and we know he’s not going to let up until things turn back in his favor.
If anyone can turn it into another gear and go on an offensive tear on this team, Smith is one of them. He’s always been one of my highest-respected and hard-working players on the team. He’ll keep grinding away and helping this team climb out of the hole they dug themselves in.
The Predators’ problems are rooted within special teams, goaltending and coaching at the moment. It’s certainly not what they’re doing offensively. With that said, players like Smith are going to have to rally this team as the veterans who have been here for a while.
If you’re keeping count, Smith is 5th on the franchise’s all-time goals list with 149, which is eight behind Filip Forsberg. He’s also 5th in games played, 6th in points and 3rd in plus/minus ratio. He’ll go down as one of the best forwards in franchise history, and hopefully he’s nowhere close to being finished with this franchise.