The Rangers have been in defensive disarray since Day 1

On the cusp of the season-opening puck drop, which is to say earlier than issues broke very dangerous for the Rangers, Alain Vigneault was touting Brendan Smith as one of many guys the coach anticipated to imagine a vocal management position within the wake of the summer time departures of Bluebloods Dan Girardi and Derek Stepan.

“Smitty is vocal, intense, and in our room, that’s a superb factor to have,” Vigneault stated. “It’s about preserving everybody accountable. I like that facet of him. I like that power that he brings.

“I’ve already talked to him about that expanded position within the dressing room. Coming from Detroit, he’s had some actual strong leaders there, so I anticipate much more in that space from him.”

Two video games into the season, Smith was a wholesome scratch following a weak opener at residence towards Colorado and a nightmarish efficiency two nights later in Toronto. A wholesome scratch for 2 straight.

It’s sort of troublesome to steer from behind in road garments, isn’t it?

“That’s a really fascinating query about whether or not personalities change in conditions like that,” the 28-yr-previous defenseman stated earlier than the Rangers met Vegas on the Backyard on Tuesday to conclude a frightful October. “For me, I might say no. I needed to battle by means of it, however I don’t assume it affected who I’m and the way I went about my enterprise.

“Personally, perhaps you’re grabbing your stick a bit of tighter, however I don’t assume you permit it to have an effect on the subsequent man. Our leaders have executed a great job in right here in sustaining their personalities and holding the main target the place it must be. And that’s how we enhance individually and as a workforce.”

Smith eschewed free company to signal a 4-yr extension value $four.35 million per after having come to the Blueshirts from the Pink Wings a day prematurely of the March 1 commerce deadline. The left-handed defenseman, who usually has performed the best for the Rangers, introduced a passionate edge to the room and to the ice whereas combining with Brady Skjei to type the staff’s most reliable tandem within the playoffs.

In maintaining Smith, shopping for out Girardi and signing Kevin Shattenkirk whereas Kevin Klein retired from the NHL, the Rangers have been assured that they had addressed the weak spot on the blue line that had finally undermined them.

As an alternative, although, the protection has been a big a part of the issue. Companions didn’t jell. Vigneault employed 12 totally different pairings via the three-7-2 opening dozen video games. Smith, who has performed six video games with Skjei, is…

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