BOSTON -- Growing up, Boston Bruins forward Reilly Smith and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith would often gang up on their older brother, current National Lacrosse League player Rory Smith, because as Brendan explained Friday, "He's got that extra-human strength."
When Reilly and Brendan would fight one another, Rory would be in charge of breaking up the tussle.
Rory won't be able to step in Friday night when the Bruins and Red Wings play Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, FS-D, NESN). Instead, Rory and their parents will get to watch Reilly and Brendan fulfill a childhood dream of squaring off in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The dream was always about being on opposite sides rather teaming up.
"I think I always wanted to play against him, you know dreaming," Reilly said. "I think [backyard] games and stuff like that, we were always on different teams competing for the Stanley Cup. So it's kind of like a dream come true, stuff like that."
Brendan echoed those memories.
"Well, we always played against each other in the basement. So that was something we were always used to," Brendan said. "But I think when we were young, we always wanted to play with each other. And hopefully down the line we'll be able to do that. But when we were young, there's only three of us, so one was in net and the other ones were playing against each other."
Those games often ended prematurely because of bumps, bruises and chipped teeth.
"It never seemed like we got to Game 7 before parents called it quits on the games because somebody was hurt or there was too much bickering," Brendan said.
All three Smith brothers played on some teams together as kids. Rory then went down the lacrosse path and his younger brothers stuck with hockey, although they also enjoyed lacrosse. Brendan, a first-round pick (No. 27) by the Red Wings in the 2007 NHL Draft, chose the University of Wisconsin. Then Reilly, a third-round pick (No. 69) of the Dallas Stars in 2009, chose Miami University. Those choices nearly matched up the Smith brothers at the 2010 Frozen Four, but Reilly's RedHawks lost to Boston College in the semifinals.
"Yeah, that would've been really, really cool," Brendan said. "Then obviously one of us is going to win. That's kind of what we were hoping for, but obviously it fell through. That would've been, I guess, the ideal situation."
In the American Hockey League, the Smith brothers faced one another three times last season. Brendan went on to gain playoff experience with 14 games for the Red Wings last spring. Dallas didn't make the playoffs, so Reilly will be making his postseason debut.
This season, they saw one another during Bruins-Red Wings games. Despite playing in the same division, they kept in touch regularly. And although Reilly said he hasn't been in contact with his brother since the Bruins and Red Wings were paired for the postseason, Brendan said they've been in touch, just a little less than usual.
"Yeah, we've talked a little bit. We were actually going to try to get together [Thursday] night, but we had some team dinners. So we opted out," Brendan said. "But we're still talking. I mean he's always chirping back and forth and he'll get a rise out of you guys more than he'll get a rise out of me."
Their parents will be staying in Boston with Reilly this weekend and there's a thought that mom might wear a sweater that's half Red Wings and half Bruins sewed down the middle. The parents might stay neutral, but the children obviously cannot.
"No, I think as soon as the game starts he's just another player on a different team," Reilly said.