5 Things We Learned From Devils’ Season-Opening Back-to-Back

Timo Meier in preseason action for the Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Timo Meier in preseason action for the Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Brendan Smith in action for the Devils against the Washington Capitals. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Brendan Smith in action for the Devils against the Washington Capitals. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

#3. The Brendan Smith experiment isn’t working

Last year, we were all fooled when we thought Brendan Smith was keeping Kevin Bahl out of the lineup for so long. With Graves out of the picture and Luke Hughes coming into the picture full-time, it was assumed that Smith would be the odd man out. That assumption was false.

To start this year, Smith started on the bottom defense pairing with Hughes on his right, which means no Colin Miller and no Simon Nemec. As it goes with him, the veteran defenseman hasn’t played badly at all, but it’s his propensity for mistakes that gets him in the doghouse of both Devils fans and Devils coaches.

The Devils actually dominated with Smith on the ice against Arizona. He had a shot share of 69.23 percent with 18 shots for and only eight against. Hughes wasn’t far behind him, but Smith’s third period penalty was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

Naturally, the 34-year-old’s tripping penalty came right after Jesper Bratt’s breakaway miss, and there was never any doubt that the Coyotes would convert on their seventh power play of the night.

Overall, Smith finished the night with five shots in only 15 minutes of ice time (every other defenseman had 19 minutes or more). If he’s taking that many shots and the Devils are still trying to shelter him, just give Nemec a chance to play and to learn. Go for broke on offense since the defense clearly isn’t there anyway.