Smith looks to move away from discussing rookie scoring race
There has been a lot of attention on Predators rookie Craig Smith. From features on ESPN.com to The Hockey News, everyone wants to talk about the 98th overall draft pick from 2009. Everyone, that is, except Smith himself.
“Ive been asked this question a lot,” Smith answered when asked if he paid attention to the scoring race amongst rookies. Going into Saturday night’s contests, Smith was tied with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at 14 points each. But the Predators forward wants to focus on the team, not himself.
“I’d like to move on from that. I’m happy to talk about the team, but I don’t worry about that stuff. It’s just not my main focus. I’m happy the team is doing well right now. I am happy I can contribute. We have a game coming up, and I’m excited about that,” Smith said.
The Predators next game is Tuesday night against the Edmonton Oilers and will feature Nugent-Hopkins, who pulled away in the rookie scoring race on Saturday night with a 5-point effort against Chicago.
Smith picked up an assist on Colin Wilson’s first period power play marker in Nashville’s 4-3 overtime loss to Columbus on Saturday night.
With 19 points on the season, including 7 goals and 12 assists, Nugent-Hopkins now leads Smith by 4 points. The Predators center also has 7 goals along with 8 assists.
Smith remains tied for the points lead on the Nashville Predators. David Legwand also has 15 points, including 5 goals and 10 assists. Only Predators Captain Shea Weber has more shots on goal than Smith. Weber has 61 shots on goal, while Smith has registered a total of 55 shots on goal.
Nugent-Hopkins was drafted first overall in the 2011 Entry Draft and plays on a line with dynamic fowards Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.
In contrast, Smith has found himself playing with a number of different linemates for the Predators, depending on injuries for Nashville. While Smith started the season playing with Legwand and Wilson, he also has played with Patric Hornqvist and even on a more of a grinder line with Matt Halischuk and Jordin Tootoo.
Smith has already grown tired of discussing his own game, probably more so after his missed empty-net goal while standing in the crease on Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, Predators alternate captain Ryan Suter has no problem talking about the value of Smith to the Nashville squad.
“He’s a good player. He plays hard. He is a good skater. He is always around the puck. He hounds the puck. He works his butt off out there,” Suter said in describing the former Wisconsin Badger.
Tuesday’s game against Edmonton is the last in a five-game homestand for Nashville. It is the first in back-to-back games for the Predators, who play in Minnesota on Wednesday night. The puck is scheduled to drop shortly after 7 pm CT.