Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011
Posted: 10:41 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com Blackhawks InsiderFollow @TraMyersCSN
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan -- Ben Smith certainly turned heads in his playoff stint with the Chicago Blackhawks last season. He was one of the few guys scoring early against Vancouver, and his Game 6 overtime winner secured the Blackhawks a Game 7.
But that was then. And for Smith, last years production doesnt have much to do with making this years team.
Right off the bat, nothings guaranteed. I was told that at the end of last year, Smith said. So I knew that I have to come into camp and have a good one and prove that I belong.
So far, hes doing that.
Smith is showing the same qualities now that he did last spring: toughness, net presence and strength. This is a tough Blackhawks roster to crack, but Smith worked on some things this summer in hopes of joining it.
Im just trying to do the little things well: blocking shots, getting shots off quick and just trying to be strong in front of the net, which is what I showed I could do at the end of last year, he said. Im just trying to get better at the small things. Hopefully that shows.
Coach Joel Quenneville likes what he sees early.
Bens looked good. Hes prided himself to take that next step, he said. You see his fitness tests and see him on the ice. No one works harder, nobodys more determined. Hes had a real good camp.
Smith isnt a big guy 5-foot-11, and he said hes now around 210 pounds but hes still good at the grit work. He showed that plenty in the Vancouver series last spring, playing like a veteran when the Blackhawks struggled to get production from some of their top guys.
No, his postseason work probably wont have much bearing on September decisions. But Smith is nevertheless a more comfortable, confident guy this fall because of it.
I hope that helps but at the same time its a whole new season, Smith said. Theyre judging off this training camp, and its up to us to be ready to go.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.