About one month ago, Blackhawks fans had no idea who this 22-year-old forward was. Now Ben Smith is known as the hero of Game 6 against Vancouver Canucks in the opening round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Smith’s overtime heroics forced a Game 7 in Vancouver and it quickly became the wrist shot heard ’round the NHL world. When a comeback seemed improbable, the unlikely rookie found the rebound trickle to his skates and he put it past Roberto Luongo.
So where did this kid come from? Smith was drafted as a college sophomore in the 6th round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He decided to return to Boston College to finish his collegiate career. His best campaign was in 2008 when he netted 25 goals and added another 25 assists for the Eagles. Over his four seasons, Smith accumulated 57 goals and 122 points and he wore an “A” on his jersey during his final season at Boston College. He proved this year that he can be a leader at a bigger level.
In his first season for AHL Rockford, Smith played in 63 games and recorded 31 points. Though he only played six games for the Blackhawks during the regular season since being recalled on April 6, he managed to find the stat sheet with one goal on the fourth line. The more shocking statistic is that he scored 3 goals in the Vancouver series despite the Blackhawks super stars failing to step up.
Smith is known as a playmaker and he has a knack for finding the back of the net. The one side of his game the Blackhawks need to exploit is his power play experience with the Eagles. I understand he is still very young, but he could be a weapon for the Hawks in the future. One thing that the Hawks like about his playing style is that Smith has a high hockey IQ and has also proven that he can play center for a lower line if he practices face-offs.
If you still have some doubts, Smith scored his first career NHL goal against Detroit’s Jimmy Howard two days after being recalled from the AHL. Smith will need to fight for a roster spot in the 2011-2012 season, but he has shown flashes of offensive dominance.