Staff Report Cards : Ben Smith

G.I. Ben, A Real American Hero

All situations
5 on 5 on-ice
5 on 5
CF% rel
GF% rel
ZS% rel
Regular Season 75 14 12 26 12.5 5.7 15.60% 12 51.10% -5.50% 52.40% -3.10% 9.10% 90.40% 99.5 26.60% -37.30% 21.70% 7.20% 25.90% 28.10% 27.20%
Playoffs 19 4 2 6 14 5.6 14.80% 0 45.20% -4.70% 66.70% 20.40% 9.10% 95.30% 104.4 38.70% -17.70% 24.90% 11.70% 19.00% 27.90% 29.00%

Ben Smith finally got his chance to earn a permanent roster spot on the Blackhawks and he took full advantage of it. This was the season we had been waiting for from Smith since he became a legend of Chicago sports folklore with his game winning overtime goal versus the Canucks back in 2011. An elbow to the skull from Brendan Smith,of the Red Wings, the following preseason limited him to just 51 total games between Rockford and Chicago. The fast pace and the good health of the 2013 season left Ben in Rockford for all but one regular season game and of course his cameo appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.

Smith had to earn Joel Quenneville's trust early on in the 2013-14 season but by the end of the year he was one of the most dependable players on the roster. Smith was a healthy scratch for the season opening game versus the Capitals and again six more times during the first month of the season. Once he gelled with Brandon Bollig and Marcus Kruger on the 4th line, he was a fixture in the Hawks lineup. Smith put up 26 points (14 G, 12 A) in his first full NHL season. Not a bad tally for your 4th line winger.

Smith finished the regular season toward the bottom in CF% with his fellow fourth liners. This isn't too much of a surprise considering Smith was third on the team in defensive zone starts at 47.7%. Who were the two players ahead of him? If you guessed Kruger and Bollig, you'd be right! If you are playing the majority of you time in your own end, it is only natural that your Corsi number will be lower than those players who get the offensive zone starts. It was Ben Smith's defensive responsibility that earned Q's trust and put the fourth line on the ice for numerous key shifts during the season. Smith also contributed to the penalty kill as he averaged 1:16 of shorthanded time per game, which was fifth among the forwards. The Hawks' penalty kill unit struggled to start the season as the coaching staff tried to figure out who would replace the departed Michal Frolik. Smith was able to help stabilize the unit down the stretch and into the playoffs. Smith had 58 blocked shots which was the second most by a forward and the sixth most on the team.

Smith added some much needed scoring depth in the playoffs as he scored four times, twice as many times as both Marian Hossa and Andrew Shaw. Three of his four goals came in the Western Conference Finals against the Kings. His time on ice increased about two and half minutes a game from his regular season totals. He even got some time centering the second line between Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.

Ben Smith will never be an All Star nor will he ever been in contention for the Rocket Richard or Hart Trophies, but he doesn't have to be. He is an ideal bottom six forward for a team with plenty of firepower in the top six. He is a bit undersized but he makes up for that with his fearless style of play. He won't score many highlight reel goals but he will score a bunch by being willing to take the punishment getting to the front of the net. He is a pretty good skater which will make him versatile and his low base makes him hard to check off the puck. Smith was rewarded for his fine season with a new two year contract at the end of the season. Look for more of the same out of Smith in the upcoming season. A lot of defensive zone starts and dirty goals.

Final Grade : B

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