BLOG: Eakins a big fan of Smyth
Friday's game is a great example of why Dallas Eakins is such a big fan of Ryan Smyth. Smyth had a couple of really tough periods, by his and Eakins' own admission, but rallied to become a big reason why the team was able to hold on in what was essentially a 1-0 game.
"It's a game of mistakes and the least amount of mistakes usually wins. You've got to control your game individually and collectively find a way to do what's best for the team," Smyth said. "There's a few turnovers that I wish I could take back but in the end we got what we wanted, we got the two points and we got out of there."
Eakins talked more about the 37-year-old winger.
"He's one of those guys, he's so competitive. It's hard to keep him down a lot of times. Is he the most fleet of foot anymore? No he's not. But his experience and gamesmanship is something that all of our players should be taking note of. We were just talking last night after the game, how is it that a guy of Smytty's age and speed can end up with those chances on the net? How is it him on a lot of nights that has that chance," Eakins began. "He has a very high level of hockey sense. I think that's good for our whole group to take note of."
Despite not playing his best game, Smyth did score the only two goals for the Oilers. He was also on the ice with 12 seconds left which enabled him to net the empty netter -- a goal which also came on the power play, inching him to within one of Wayne Gretzky and two of Glenn Anderson on the franchise's all-time list.
"I thought Smytty really struggled the first two periods. It was interesting, he was just a little bit behind and had a tough couple decisions with the puck. But in the third I thought he got his feet underneath him and when we're protecting a one-goal lead I thought he was one of our key guys late."
In all, Smyth has six goals and 13 points this season. Included among that is a pair of two-goal games and a pair of three-point games.
"It's been an interesting year for him. He's a guy who started off really well, settled into his role on our team and continues to be a good player for us."
Smyth has played greater than 15 minutes in seven of the team's last eight games and included in that are a pair of games right around the 20-minute mark.