The Rangers keep winning and, as a result, Brendan Smith simply can’t find a way back into the lineup. At today’s practice Smith was skating with Paul Carey on the Rangers extra defensive pair. That means he will likely be a healthy scratch for a sixth straight game.
Doesn’t look like any changes to #NYR lineup from Saturday’s game. Smith and Carey skating as a D pair.— Matt Calamia (@MattCalamia) November 13, 2017
Smith hasn’t dressed for a game since Halloween when the Rangers played the Vegas Golden Knight. In that contest he played just 12:06 TOI. In total, he’s been kept out of the lineup seven times since the beginning of the year. For some context, Nick Holden has been played in 13 of the Rangers 18 games to date and Steven Kampfer has dressed for eight games.
Alain Vigneault’s decision to keep Brendan Smith in street clothes has been controversial for a number of reasons, but the defenseman’s four-year, $17,400,000 contract is at the top of that list. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s been some speculation about Smith’s conditioning and fitness heading into training camp. How Smith is supposed to work through his issues without playing in games is something of a mystery. But right now the focus for Vigneault and the Rangers is on winning games. And this current lineup, with Holden and Kampfer, has won half a dozen games in a row. If it ain’t broke?
Like La Greca, I have heard rumors about Brendan Smith being out of shape. If so, fair enough. He needs to sit and get into shape.— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) November 10, 2017
That does not explain why Pionk/DeAngelo/Graves are in Hartford.
The only other update from today’s practice is that Jimmy Vesey is still skating with a full face shield after taking a skate to the face.
The Rangers next game will played on Wednesday in Chicago against the Blackhawks. After that the Blueshirts visit Columbus on Friday for another game against the Blue Jackets. If the Rangers keep winning and everyone stays healthy, it’s hard to imagine Vingeault shaking things up and bringing Smith back into the fold.