6:25PM: Alain Vigneault said before the game about Smith, "in the last game, Smytty had a couple of moments that were more challenging, a couple of decisions with the puck, decisions in front of the net. He is a hard worker and real good person and came in today and worked real hard and he will be ready the next time we need him." (NYR)
5:11PM: Smith spoke earlier today and said (NYR):
- "I like where my game is at, I think I've been playing pretty well. I wasn't totally happy with my last game and there is always room for improvement."
- Does it feel you are on a short leash, "I'm not sure. It's so early to tell. I've felt like I have had a lot of really good games but a couple of periods have got away from me and I just need to make sure I have a lot of consistencies to stay in the lineup."
12PM: Brendan Smith is skating this morning with a group of players that are likely to be scratched tonight against Tampa Bay. (Zipay)
He was benched for all but 34 seconds in the third period on Tuesday against Vegas.
Smith was benched for two games earlier this season, Montreal and St. Louis, before returning to play in the Rangers next 9 games.
When Smith returned from that initial time being scratched, Alain Vigneault said that Smith would play a "good game" for us and that when Smith is physical and has a good gap he is a "very effective" player."
Earlier in October, Vigneault said of Smith "I see him in our top defensemen but he has to play accordingly and I feel there is room for improvement in this case. At the end of the day I am sure he knows that."
Ryan McDonagh said on MSG recently that Smith is "so solid" around the front of the net and getting "consistently better."
On 10/30, Alain Vigneault said that Smith has been a "work in progress" but getting better.
Larry Brooks wrote this week that Smith has "not come close" to resembling the player he was after joining the Rangers last season. (NY Post)
This season Smith has played in 11 games, has two assists, 11 shots on goal, a plus two rating, 14 hits, 14 blocked shots, 6 takeaways and 10 giveaways.
When Smith is on the ice at 5 on 5 the Rangers have 44.78% of the shot attempts & 52.94% of the goals. (Natural Stat Trick)
When Smith is on the PK he leads the team in goals scored against with 7. (Natural Stat Trick)
Smith is in the first year of a four-year deal, that includes a modified no-trade, and a cap hit of $4.35 million.
Adam Rotter: It's not often that Alain Vigneault changes the lineup after a win but Brendan Smith needs to sit tonight. Smith struggled mightily against Vegas in pretty much all facets of the game. This season he has looked much more like the player that struggled to find his footing in Detroit for so long and not physical, solid player he was after being acquired and until Game 6 against Ottawa. The Rangers made a commitment to Smith on the basis of him being able to play in the top four and scratching him thrice in the first month and change of the season has certainly not been ideal. The Rangers talk about simplifying things and that is what Smith has to do. Smith just needs to find a baseline where at minimum he is physical and in the right positions. That is what the Rangers need from him.