Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 5/17/13
DETROIT Brendan Smith heard about all that criticism of him following the Detroit Red Wings series-opening loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Nobody took more heat from analysts, sports-talk hosts and fans than the 24-year-old rookie defenseman. A few buddies told me it was all over Twitter, Smith said following Fridays practice at Joe Louis Arena. It doesnt really faze me very much. You just try to put that behind you. Its easy for myself to do. Its a new day. Smith and the Red Wings will get a chance to redeem themselves for that 4-1 loss when they return to Chicago for Game 2 Saturday afternoon. In Wednesdays game, the Blackhawks blitzed the Wings back line with a tenacious fore-check that forced Smith and others into costly mistakes. Youve just got to flush it out, captain Henrik Zetterberg said when asked about Smiths confidence level coming off that performance. I dont think it was that bad, that some people thought he was. I dont think it really bothers him. He knows what he has to do. Smith, who has played 48 regular-season games and eight playoff games in his career, failed to clear the puck out of the Wings zone on Chicagos first goal. However, he was not on the ice for the Blackhawks final three goals. Smith actually ended up plus-1 for the game because he was out there for Detroits only goal, even strength, and he doesnt get charged statistically for Chicagos goal that came on a power play. Oddly enough, Smith and defensive partner Kyle Quincey were the only Red Wings who had a plus-rating for the night. Still, Smith often struggled to make plays in the defensive zone. I heard all the stuff, Wings coach Mike Babcock said of the heat on his young defenseman. I heard the emotion from some of our staff, too. I didnt see it like that. I saw a young guy trying to make a bunch of plays and no one there to accept the pass at the other end. In other words, the forwards andor the other defenseman were just as much or more to blame for not getting into the right position. Babcock met with Smith Friday morning before practice to watch video and discuss what happened the other night. The coach tried to reinforce some positive points and dismissed all the critics. I showed him making a bunch of good plays, Babcock said. I said, Let me decide and you decide (how he's played). Nobody else decides. Former Red Wing Mickey Redmond, an analyst Fox Sports Detroit, also believes that too much of the blame was directed at Smith. Lets put it this way, he had company, Redmond said. It was a bad night for him, but it was a bad night for a lot of guys. Redmond considers it all an aberration and expects Smith and the entire team which has gotten some needed rest after a grueling, seven-game series with Anaheim in the opening round to be much better in Game 2. Smith frequently was in the spotlight because his speed gets him to the puck quicker than others. Asked if Chicagos pressure was overwhelming at times, Smith said, Absolutely. Theyre on us really tight, he said. Its really fast. They have good sticks. Its definitely very effective. Weve got to manage the puck a lot better. When they do cut off options, we have to make a good play chipping it out to a zone where nobodys at. I have to make better plays, obviously. Ive got to make better decisions with it. How will he respond to this adversity? Smith seemingly has a promising career ahead of him, but he needs to bounce back and put these doubts to rest. The sooner, the better, which means Saturdays game could be very revealing.
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