The Detroit Red Wings lost a heartbreaker of a series to the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday night. While the loss is going to sting for a bit for the Wings, there are still plenty of positives, as they made it deeper than anyone had expected them to out of the no. 7 spot in the Western Conference.
Some players for the Wings fall on both sides of the spectrum as far as positives and negatives are concerned. For example, the Red Wings got an awful lot of outstanding play from Brendan Smith. But there was also another side in which Smith had some really awful stretches for Detroit.
From a points perspective, Smith was actually pretty productive from the blue line for Detroit. His five points throughout these playoffs were tied with Jakub Kindl for the most on the team among blue liners. That includes what went on to become the game-winning goal in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
But outside of what he was able to do on the stat sheet, these playoffs, particularly Detroit’s series against the Blackhawks, weren’t always the easiest for Smith. He had a few gaffes that resulted in scoring chances, or even goals for Chicago. In the final game of the series, Smith had a minus-7 Corsi rating in Game 7 of the series.
In fact, in the last three games of the series, all of which were Chicago wins, Smith was on the ice for a total of three Hawks goals, while only being on the ice for one of Detroit’s in any of those games.
That doesn’t mean that it’s time to get down on Smith. He showed a lot of what has this organization high on him. He has the potential to be a key offensive defenseman for this club for the next several years. It’s just a matter of improving his play in his own end. With a playoff season now under his belt, Smith can learn from his mistakes and move on.
There’s a lot to like about Brendan Smith. He plays a solid offensive game from the blue line. He can kill penalties. He’s going to be a good one. He just has to go through some growing pains first. It’s just unfortunate for him that those growing pains have to come on such a large stage.