Defenseman Brendan Smith had his debut as a New York Ranger on Thursday night in a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins.
Overall, Smith played well and was pleased with his first game. In his postgame conference, head coach Alain Vigneault said he was also pleased with his new blueliner’s performance.
Smith was acquired Tuesday from Detroit in exchange for two draft picks. He was at Madison Square Garden for the Rangers’ game against Washington, practiced Wednesday with the team and participated Thursday in Boston. He had two blocked shots and one hit in 20:51 of ice time.
He said that although it’s a challenge to step into a new lineup with only one practice under his belt, his defensive partner Ryan McDonagh has helped him from the start.
“It is kind of tough to learn a system in a couple days,” Smith said Thursday after the game.”I think the big reason was [McDonagh] helped out so much. He’s a fantastic player. He was talking to me the whole time.”
Smith stated that there’s a few things he needs to fix in his game, but that he’s happy overall with his first outing and will build from it.
“He played a good game.” Vigneault said. “Coming in and playing against their top line, I thought he did a good job. The more he gets used to his new teammates, I’m sure the better he’s going to be.”
One aspect of being a Ranger that Smith stated he particularly enjoys is playing in front of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. As one of the best in the game, it is understandably different to play with Lundqvist rather than against him.
Assessing his new team as a whole, one thing that stood out to Smith is how fast New York plays. “I love the speed. You’ve got guys – and we’re even missing [Michael] Grabner who’s got lots of speed.”
“We can turn it on like that and I think our start wasn’t our best but we built from it and we got better,” Smith continued. “We found a way to get two points on the road. Sometimes it’s hard. That’s a good team but we found a way.”
With under 20 games left in the regular season, it’ll be fun to watch how the rest plays out.