Reilly Smith didn't have a long stint in the American Hockey League this time around.
The young forward was sent down to the Texas Stars in Austin on Tuesday, presumably to get some game time as the Austin-based AHL team played host to the Houston Aeros. And after one successful night with his old mates, Smith came right back up to the big club today.
Smith was recalled Wednesday morning after potting a goal and an assist on three shots with a plus-4 rating in the Stars 7-6 overtime win against the Aeros. And after practicing with the big club again, he talked about what the brief stay in the AHL did for him.
"I definitely felt more confident on the ice down there, and I felt like I was able to do a little more with the puck," Smith said, "I think I had more time with the puck in the first period than in my last couple games up here. It was good to get the confidence back up."
So that's about 7 hours, 30 minutes of road travel (without traffic on the sometimes wicked stretches of I-35) or probably 4-5 hours in planes and airports for ideally a rejuvenated game. That's the real advantage of having an AHL affiliate so close to Dallas. Smith has had a solid rookie season for the Stars, driving possession up the ice in admittedly sheltered minutes. Hopefully this move will give him the spark to start finding the back of the net again.
The other news out of Wednesday's practice were the guys who weren't there. Aaron Rome, who returned from a 13-game injury absence on Monday, had a personal day, while Jamie Benn missed practice to rest his injured hand. This had previously been characterized as a wrist injury when Benn missed a week with it earlier this month, though I'm not sure it really matters which part of his hand/wrist is bothering him.
As Brad covered earlier today, Benn's going through a prolonged goal-scoring slump, though he has been picking up assists during that stretch. His slump started before we knew of the injury (the first mention of it came after the game against the Phoenix Coyotes where he took the high hit from Martin Hanzal), but a lingering injury to his hand or wrist could definitely be a large factor in his continued struggles.
And speaking of hand injuries, Ryan Garbutt is seeing a hand specialist later this week and is skating now. He is on injured reserve and has been out since March 16.
The full release about Smith's recall is below:
Smith, 21, played in last night's Texas Stars contest against the Houston Aeros, where he earned one goal, one assist, three shots and a team-high plus-4 rating. In total, the Toronto native has posted 29 points (12G-17A) in 39 games for Texas this season. The 6-foot, 185-pound forward has skated in 28 NHL contests for Dallas this season, accumulating six points (3G-3A) and 29 shots. He was Dallas' third-round selection (69th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
The Dallas Stars take on the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center Friday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m. CT (TV: FOX Sports Southwest, Radio: 1310 The Ticket).