Jeremy Smith solid amidst playoff push
Having lost Malcolm Subban for an extended amount of time and with Zane McIntyre still getting used to the professional game, the Providence Bruins were forced to turn to AHL-veteran Jeremy Smith.
Smith, who started the year on loan with the Iowa Wild, was in the midst of a rough season with Minnesota’s affiliate, sporting a 5-14-3 record with 2.94 Goals-Against Average. However, since his return to Providence in February, Smith has seemingly regained his form at the right time for the P-Bruins.
In 16 games with Providence, Smith has a 10-4-1 record with a 2.02 goals against average and a .932 Save Percentage. His .919 total Save Percentage with both Iowa and Providence ranks him just outside the top-10 in the American Hockey League this season.
“He’s been a terrific goaltender for us,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Smith. “It was kind of disappointing not having him at the beginning of the year, but having three goalies right out of the gate wasn’t going to work and asking Zane to play every night would have been tough. With Malcolm’s unfortunate injury, we are very lucky to have a guy like Jeremy.”
Taken in the second round by the Nashville Predators in the 2007 NHL Draft, Smith has bounced around during his professional career. Starting his career in the ECHL, where he led the Cincinnati Cyclones to a Kelly Cup Championship, as well as being named the playoff Co-MVP in 2010, Smith has seen stops in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals, the Springfield Falcons and is now in his second season with the Providence Bruins, along with the short stint with Iowa.
Though he has yet to make an appearance in and NHL regular season or playoff game, Smith is working day-in and day-out to help guide the P-Bruins back to the postseason, and to quite possibly be the one the Bruins call up if they need a third goaltender for the playoffs, provided the B’s get there of course.
“Just working everyday to get better,” Smith said. “Even the best hockey players know they can get better at something and I think, for me, it’s about not being complacent and just continue to work hard.”
Smith’s hard work and humble attitude has certainly paid off over the last month of play. In the month of March alone, Smith went 6-1-1 with a 2.03 GAA and a .937 Save Percentage.
This past weekend, Smith appeared in two games, making 25 saves in a tough 2-0 loss at Portland Friday, April 1, but rebounded two days later, once again making 25 saves in a 2-1 overtime victory over a very good Hershey Bears team at home on Sunday, April 3.
In that game vs. Hershey, Smith stifled the Atlantic Division-leading Bears, the league’s third-highest scoring team (with the league’s leading scorer Chris Bourque to boot) for two periods. In the second period, Smith stoned Jakub Vrana with a sliding pad save while Vrana was alone in the slot, a save that numerous off-ice officials dubbed the best save of the year by a Bruins goaltender. Smith also made a nifty poke check on Ryan Stanton, who was practically in all by himself in the defensive zone and stuffed Carter Camper on a breakaway nearly midway through the period. Smith also made five good saves from in-close during a Hershey power-play late in the second.
The Bears were not able to solve Smith until 4:25 into the third on Christian Djoos slap shot from the right faceoff dot. After that, Smith was able to keep Hershey off the board for the remainder of the game as the Bruins were able to avenge their shootout loss from the previous night on an overtime goal by Chris Casto.
With Providence locked in a heated battle for a playoff spot, Smith’s play has been, and must continue to be essential if the Bruins were to make a return to the postseason.
“You need good goaltending to win in any league,” Cassidy said, ” and [so far] Smitty has provided us with that, and I’m sure he will continue to do that moving forward.”
“I just have to keep doing what I’m doing right,” Smith added. “Just keep working hard, finding success and continuing to win and I think if we can continue this momentum into the playoffs, I think we’ll be okay.”