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Despite hiccup, Reilly Smith could give Bruins another penalty killer

09.25.13 at 4:32 pm ET
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Bruins right wing Reilly Smith has a rather self-deprecating sense of humor, so when the third-line hopeful pooh-poohed the job he did Monday night against the Capitals, perhaps it was to be taken with a grain of salt.

But seriously, it was bad.

Smith, who is both running away with the third line right wing job in training camp and humble enough to admit that defensemen were allowed to take faceoffs before he was in his college days, appears to be getting some more responsibility as the preseason goes on. He has now skated on the projected third line with Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg in two straight games, and on Tuesday the B’s gave him a look on the penalty kill.

Smith, who killed penalties in the AHL last season (his first out of college, which he split between the Texas and Dallas Stars), has not done so at the NHL level. Perhaps that showed when, after a too-many men call in the second period, Smith was given his first PK shift of the night and saw Connor Carrick score just 16 seconds into it.

“I thought I was going to go serve the penalty,” Smith said Wednesday of the bench minor, which was served by Ryan Spooner. “Kells was like, ‘No Smitty, you’ve got to come. You’ve got to [kill the penalty] with me.’ I was like, ‘Ah, this isn’t going to turn out well.’ They scored about 10 seconds later, so we’ll see if I’m playing the penalty kill tomorrow.”

While the experience was a comically bad one for Smith, he should take the fact that Julien put him on the penalty kill as a good sign. Smith, who was acquired in the July 4 blockbuster with the Stars, has shown legitimate two-way abilities,  strength on the wall, strong skating and a decent bit of grit in his first training camp with the Bruins. Putting him on the PK means the Bruins are taking him seriously.

If he can kill penalties at the NHL level, that will be a big plus for Smith. After all, he’s playing on Rich Peverley‘s old line, and Peverley was a penalty killer for the B’s over the years.

“I guess we’ll see,” Claude Julien said of whether he feels Smith could be a viable option on the PK. “I think we need to have a look at him first and then decide. That’s what preseason games are for. You experiment with those things and then you evaluate and make those decisions. I think overall we’ve got a pretty good group of penalty killers, guys who have killed before, but you try to find out as much as you can from every player, especially the new ones.”

Bad experiences aside — and the B’s did give Smith another shift on the penalty kill, which he says was an opportunity to redeem himself — Smith doesn’t see why he couldn’t become a penalty killer for Boston. He’s a smart two-way player, so even if it isn’t right away, Smith would be happy to offer his services.

“It’s just attention to detail,” he said. “Sometimes you get caught in the wrong spot. I played a lot of penalty kill in the AHL last year. It’s just something that you get better at with time. The NHL’s a lot faster and a lot quicker, so that’s one thing you just have to adapt you.”

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