Ryan Smyth is back. Well, he’s been back since Dec. 26, but it seemed to me that, for a while, Smyth’s play took a dip after he returned. Terry Murray has often talked about this, the theory that when a player returns from a long-term injury, he enjoys a brief spurt of success, then dips for a while, then returns to pre-injury form. If you look at Smyth’s past five weeks, that’s exactly what happened. He scored four goals in his first seven games, then didn’t record a point for almost two weeks, and now has four goals and three assists in his last eight games, including three goals in his last five games.
I asked Terry Murray today if he had noticed some spike in Smyth’s play of late.
MURRAY: “Absolutely. It’s been really noticeable to me, very noticeable. I would say that, in his last four games — I haven’t really analyzed it — I have noticed a big change in his contribution, through the road trip and again last night. His reads, his comfort, his handling of the puck, his making plays, he’s skating better. It’s just him feeling more involved and feeling more comfortable in his game. Playing with Stoll and Brown right now, it’s a good thing, it’s a good line. They’re three veteran guys who are moving the puck around and doing some good things at both ends of the rink. He has responded very well.”