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Brendan Smith seizing Rangers opportunity after opening night scratch

Brendan Smith seizing Rangers opportunity after opening night scratch

Brendan
Smith
was
a
healthy
scratch
for
the
Rangers’
season-opener
last
Thursday,
but
found
himself
in
the
lineup
two
nights
later
after
defenseman

Tony
DeAngelo
was
benched
.

So
the
31-year-old
utility
player
did
what
he’s
said
he’s
done
many
times
over
the
course
of
his
past
four
seasons
with
the
Rangers:
take
advantage
of
his
opportunity.

Smith
was
on
the
ice
for
three
of
the
Rangers’
five
goals
in
Saturday’s
shut-out
win
over
the
Islanders.
He
assisted
on
the
team’s
second
tally
of
the
game
after
breaking
up
an
Isles’
pass
and
sending
Artemi
Panarin
on
a
breakaway
with
a
picture-perfect
pass
for
the
Breadman
to
convert.

Head
coach
David
Quinn
said
he
was
sticking

with
the
same
lineup
that
worked

ahead
of
Tuesday’s
matchup
with
the
Devils
at
Madison
Square
Garden,
and
Smith
certainly
played
a
part
in
making
it
work.

“One
of
the
things
about
Smitty
is
he’s
true
to
himself,
and
his
personality
is
every
time
he’s
out
there
he
plays
with
passion,”
Quinn
said
on
a
pregame
Zoom
call
Tuesday.
“He’s
a
guy
that
has
an
edge
to
him,
he’s
always
had
that
from
the
time
we
watched
him
when
I
was
at
BU.
It’s
something
that
comes
naturally
to
him.
So
regardless
of
the
situation,
when
he’s
out
there,
he’s
giving
it
his
all.
His
personality
is
infectious.

“But
this
isn’t
just
about
that,
he
played
well
[Saturday]
night.
Obviously
he’s
been
up,
back
and
forth.
After
we
traded
Brady
[Skjei],
he
had
a
regular
spot
on
D
and
played
well,
so
I
don’t
know
if
I’d
call
him
a
pinch-hitter.
He’s
a
guy
we
feel
comfortable
with
when
he’s
out
there.”

Last
season,
Smith
started
off
primarily
playing
as
a
fourth-line
forward.
He
registered
time
on
the
penalty
kill
as
a
defenseman,
but
also
received
limited
minutes
on
the
wing.
After
Skjei
was
traded
to
the
Hurricanes
last
February,
Smith
was
given
a
more
consistent
role
on
the
blue
line.

For
Smith,
who
scored
three
goals
and
dished
five
assists
in
62
games
in
2019-20,
the
key
has
been
to
be
prepared
for
any
role
the
Rangers
may
need.

“When
I
get
that
opportunity,
which
I
don’t
want
to
be
in
that
position,
I
want
to
be
in
the
lineup
every
night,”
Smith
said.
“You’ve
got
to
stay
sharp
and
I
think
I’ve
done
a
good
job
of
that.
It’s
not
easy,
don’t
get
me
wrong,
I’m
not
saying
it’s
easy.
And
if
I
can
help
younger
kids
or
even
some
of
my
teammates
who
may
be
younger,
that
it’s
not
the
end
of
the
world
when
you
do
get
sat
because
you’re
going
to
get
an
opportunity.
If
you’re
mentally
prepared
and
then
you
do
all
your
stuff
physically,
whether
that’s
weight
room
or
going
hard
in
practice,
it’ll
give
you
the
answers
to
the
test.”

Brendan Smith
Brendan
Smith

Getty
Images

Smith
was
paired
with
rookie
defenseman
and

fellow
Wisconsin
Badger
alumni
K’Andre
Miller

in
Saturday’s
5-0
win.
Quinn
said
he
thought
Miller’s
improved
performance
in
his
second
NHL
game
was
more
due
to
his
comfort
level
rather
than
his
D
partner,
which
Smith
agreed
with.

“I
think
he’s
just
getting
more
familiar
with
the
game,”
Smith
said
of
Miller.
“It’s
hard,
I
would
say
the
jump
from
whether
it’s
major
Junior,
college
route,
AHL,
whatever
that
jump
to
the
NHL
is
a
huge
jump.
When
I
made
the
jump,
I
thought
it
was
very
difficult,
it
was
hard,
you
have
to
learn
the
game
and
the
game
keeps
getting
easier
to
you
the
more
you
play
with
it.
I
think
the
more
games
he
plays,
the
better
he’s
going
to
be.
He’s
big,
he’s
talented
and
he’s
got
lots
of
skill
and
we’ve
seen
that.”


Source : Mollie Walker Link

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