Julien: Reilly Smith playing 'big role' for B's

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins forward Reilly Smith grew up in Toronto, but that doesn't mean he was a Maple Leafs fan. In fact, he admits rooting for the Detroit Red Wings.

The 22-year-old winger will play his first game against the Maple Leafs when Boston hosts Toronto Saturday night at TD Garden. This is the first time the Bruins and the Leafs have played since that epic Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last May when Boston ended Toronto's season with a historic comeback and won 5-4 in overtime.

"Obviously I grew up in Toronto, but I was never much of a Leafs fan growing up," Smith said. "But they've got a good team and it'll probably be a pretty physical battle tonight, and that's not even considering all the stuff that happened last year with Boston ending their season. It should be high intensity with a lot of emotion out there."

The Bruins acquired Smith, Loui Eriksson, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow from the Dallas Stars last summer in exchange for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley. While Eriksson was the primary return in that deal, the Bruins had been scouting Smith since his collegiate days at Miami (Ohio) University.

In the first 15 games of the season, Smith has two goals and eight assists for 10 points, including a plus-6 rating.

Bruins coach Claude Julien was asked what kind of impact Smith has made this season.

"Just look at the stats," Julien said. "He's been a real good player for us. He's a young player that's probably not been overlooked but kind of been in the shadow for a long time and he's emerged with us here. He's played a big role for us. He's a real smart player. He's creative, has good hockey sense and makes good plays. We're really happy. We talk about getting Loui Eriksson in that trade, but I think [Smith's] another key asset in that trade, as well."

Smith is currently playing on the Bruins' third line with Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg. But Smith has played a few different roles this season, including being moved up to the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Eriksson, along with getting playing time on the power play, too.

"The biggest thing is my confidence has gotten a lot better since the start of training camp. I feel like every day I'm getting more comfortable, so that's probably the biggest difference in my game since last year," Smith said.