Smith Returning to Lineup, What’s it All Mean?
As it looks right now, according to a tweet sent out by Steve Zipay, it looks like Brendan Smith will be returning to the Rangers lineup tomorrow night when they face Columbus, in a move that really shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Smith skating with Staal at NYR prax in Chicago
— Steve Zipay (@stevezipay) November 16, 2017
After last night’s 6-3 loss to Chicago, many people felt it was just a matter of time before Smith would return to the lineup.
Don’t get me wrong, Steven Kampfer in the seven games he’s played has been a serviceable bottom pairing defenseman with Marc Staal. But last night proved that as the competition gets a little tougher, Kampfer seemed more out of his element.
That, my friends, means the return of the guy we re-signed in the offseason who can handle this type of competition.
So What Gives?
As everyone knows, we here at Forever Blueshirts have given you take after take on Brendan Smith, including this short from our most recent episode of the Tilted Ice: North of Penn podcast. But its not just us saying these things. Even Bob McKenzie of TSN and NBC Sports shared similar thoughts last night during the first intermission.
The Rangers lost, we saw it. We all saw how all six defensemen struggled mightily as the game went on. Yet, when you look at how the top four is put together, you have no choice but to make Kampfer the odd man out.
Is it fair? No. Is it necessary? Yes.
What Can Smith Bring?
As we all saw when Brendan Smith initially was traded to the Rangers, his physical presence and his net-front presence is something that you can’t deny is something the Blueshirts need to help protect goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
His game has been shaky to start, and after his lackluster performance on Halloween night against Las Vegas, Alain Vigneault needed to shake things up. Not only for him but for the team as well.
Last night, in the type of team the Rangers played against, having a player like Smith would’ve helped. Even if limited to third-pairing minutes, his presence to protect the crease, and to use his body would’ve helped this team, and Henrik Lundqvist, out.
What to Expect from Smith?
It’s all about trust. With him out of the lineup for seven consecutive games, it’s going to take him some time to adjust to the in-game situations. It’s all about how much Alain Vigneault trusts Brendan Smith to fix his mistakes as the game goes along.
We know Vigneault likes to rein it in a bit with certain players, yet it’s up to him to let them work out their mistakes. It will be key for Smith to work off the rust, and assert himself quickly, so he becomes a mainstay in the Rangers lineup.
Expect Smith to have a strong game, and to have some fun out there as he returns to the lineup.
Agree? Disagree? Comment below, or let’s talk on Twitter @shawntweets280.