The Ducks' Devante Smith-Pelly appears to be wise well beyond his 21 years. Or he just knows what he's doing.
Smith-Pelly has spent the past month providing big goals at big moments. That continued Monday in the Ducks' 4-3 victory over the Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals. He had two goals to help place the Kings on the brink of elimination.
The Ducks could move on to the conference final for the fourth time in franchise history. But it will be just another game for Smith-Pelly on Wednesday at Staples Center.
"When you get out there, it has to be another game," Smith-Pelly said Monday morning. "It's bigger, but if you do what got you here, you'll be fine."
What Smith-Pelly seems to do best is torture the Kings. He had a goal in the Ducks' 2-0 victory Saturday. He followed up with two in the second period Monday — one off his skate — in the second period.
"I was just trying to get things to hit my stick," Smith-Pelly said. Stick, toe, whatever worked.
This has become habit-forming.
Smith-Pelly dabbled in the NHL early in October and November, but spent most of the season with minor league Norfolk. He was recalled April 6, when Tim Jackman suffered a broken hand.
A week later, Smith-Pelly had an impact moment — against the Kings. His goal helped the Ducks to a 4-3 shootout victory that clinched the top spot in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Turns out he was just getting warmed up.
Smith-Pelly had two goals in a 5-4 victory over Dallas that ended the Ducks' first-round series.
Things like spotlight goals and Stanley Cup victories were hardly on Smith-Pelly's mind back in Norfolk during the winter.
"You don't think about those things too much," Smith-Pelly said. "You're in the [American Hockey League]. You're just trying to get better."
That seems to have happened.
He has reached the point where Coach Bruce Boudreau has come to expect these moments. Smith-Pelly, Boudreau said, has a "good hockey IQ … there's a trust factor. We know [he's] going to do a good job."
Boudreau has so much trust that Smith-Pelly skates on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Heady stuff for a kid from Scarborough, Canada. Perry was the NHL's most valuable player in 2011. Getzlaf is a finalist for the award this season.
Smith-Pelly, meanwhile, hums along to the tune of "I Gotta Be Me." He said he lets Perry be Perry and Getzlaf be Getzlaf. He sticks to what he does best.
"If I tried to play like them, I probably wouldn't do too well," Smith-Pelly said. "I just put my stick on the ice and wait."
His first one Monday was hardly a goal scorer's goal, but it counted. He was doing a little grind work in front of the net when a shot by Mathieu Perreault went off his toe and past goalie Jonathan Quick.
Smith-Pelly's second goal was prettier. He burst up ice and took a Getzlaf pass and dangled the puck before Quick. When Quick committed, Smith-Pelly tucked in a backhand shot for a 3-1 Ducks lead.
"The first one, I never saw," Smith-Pelly said. "It just hit me. The second one was just a great play by Getzie. When you're on the ice with him, good things happen."
And good things seem to happen when Smith-Pelly is on the ice.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times