Originally written on The Predatorial  |  Last updated 2/4/13
Photo Credit: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images Coach Barry Trotz knew that he was stuck with Craig Smith, a young kid from Madison, and he had to make it work. The timing was ripe for something good to happen for Smith. A player with his skill set isn’t best served playing on a line with grinders and brawlers, but that’s the reality of Nashville hockey at times. I’m not saying there’s a wealth of forward depth, I’m saying there’s quite a few players who play the game at about the same talent level. Is Craig Smith leaps and bounds better than Matt Halischuk at the moment? No. Upside? Yes. But at the given moment, Halischuk is more proven and better adjusted to the NHL game. Nevertheless, he’s not a top six forward yet either. With Martin Erat and Patric Hornqvist out, Smith is about the best replacement the Predators have in the oh-so-rare top six forward department. In Los Angeles, Smith was given the chance to go second in the shootout, which is the linchpin of the order. He came through and netted a nasty shot through the pads of Quick. And in San Jose, the most recent of a tough road trip, Craig Smith showed up in spades for the guys in gold. Five shots on goal, which equaled his season total, and several good scoring chances. This is coming from a player that was playing so bad we thought his gear and bag would be towed from the bus like the dog in the original National Lampoon’s Vacation. The shootout, while it’s not hockey, could’ve helped the young forward get his mind right. Sergei Kostitsyn belongs on this list as well. After having a rough playoff series, his funk carried into the regular season. He wasn’t shooting, wasn’t gelling with Fisher and Erat like he needed to. Then Erat goes out, and the top line needed to be shifted around. Kostitsyn looked very out of sorts, especially in the third period when Trotz was forced to shuffle the struggling Kostitsyn down the lineup. For a top line winger to have 4 shots through 7 games, it’s hard not to fault his demotion. In Los Angeles, against a team that has owned Nashville the last couple season, Kostitsyn played another anonymous game. Kostitsyn got his chance in the shootout after Brandon Yip, Roman Josi, and Gabriel Bourque had all went. He made one of the best technical goaltenders look silly and buried his chance, winning the game. The next game in San Jose, he looked even stronger. Kostitsyn took his customary one shot, but it went in. It was a situation where we’ve all seen him pass many times over. In fact, he mixed well with Colin Wilson seeing prime minutes against the hottest team in the west. Kostitsyn’s problems have never been talent, they’ve always been more of a judgement and confidence shortage. He has a sneaky good shot, good speed, and he’s deceptively big. A confident Sergei Kostitsyn is what this team must have, moving forward. Again, I’m still souring over the shootout. However, if these shootout wins over some very good Western Conference teams help build the confidence of a couple of young forwards who needed it sorely and a goaltender who is getting back to being a monster in the net, the long term reward is far greater than the ROW tiebreaker.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Patriots keep Tom Brady excitement close to vest

Wayne happy about Brady verdict: 'That's my quarterback'

Markieff Morris on Twitter: ‘My future will not be in Phoenix’

Jonathan Kraft on asking for draft picks: 'Never say never'

Redskins charge non-season ticket holders $50 to use will call

Arthur Blank on Roger Goodell: ‘Change may be appropriate’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Belichick gives typical reply to question about Brady's freedom

Goodell not attending season opener at Gillette Stadium

Jakub Voracek will donate $1,000 for every point he scores

Dwayne Bowe reportedly in danger of being cut by Browns

Slava Voynov taken into custody by U.S Immigration

The Redskins finally catch a break with Jamison Crowder

Aaron Rodgers on Brady ruling: ‘It’s a good day for the players’

Jim Harbaugh uses Seahawks play card and Seattle loves it

First drive of Jim Harbaugh Era in Michigan ends in interception

Redskins fan who named son after RG3: ‘I don’t regret it at all’

Freshmen to watch in Week 1 of college football

Early returns on Manny Machado, MLB shortstop

Judge Berman offered free coffee for life

Conor McGregor insults Jose Aldo, plans move to lightweight

Angry Indy columnist: Don't fall for 'Deflategate magic trick'

Staubach calls Romo 'one of the best quarterbacks in the league'

Utah forbade Harbaugh-themed bus from campus

Sarah Thomas working Giants-Patriots is great for NFL’s future

Clayton Kershaw and his chance at 300 strikeouts

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The Gospel Of Harbaugh prepares for its ultimate test of faith

Meet the Utah Utes, the pluckiest program in college football

Iman Shumpert will name daughter Iman Shumpert Jr.

Dallas company celebrates Romo with DirecTV 'crownies'

Top 10 storylines for Week 4 of the NFL preseason

Matt Williams is still hopelessly married to the idea of the closer’s role

Five unique CFB games to watch this weekend

Be careful what you wish for, Jay Gruden

Ryan taking leap of faith with Bills

Top 10 storylines for Week 1 of college football season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker