1. Brendan Smith
He wasn’t having a bad game for much of the night, but Brendan Smith gets a chunk of the blame for the overtime loss because the game might not have gone to overtime if not for him. Smith took an untimely, bad penalty for tripping in the third period. The Coyotes then scored a game-tying goal on their power play.
During a very messy night for the Devils, Smith was far from the only Devil to have a seat in the penalty box. He just happened to be the one who had the most costly penalty, which is unfortunately a trend for him. Also, in the first two games, Smith has continued to struggle to find his spots. Don’t be surprised if he is out of the lineup next week.
Smith has been thrust into a bigger role than expected this season. After Colin Miller failed to impress during the preseason, Smith became Luke Hughes’ partner to start off the regular season instead of being the seventh defenseman. He’s playing on his offhand side, which he’s done before, but it’s not ideal.
If Smith can’t find a groove with Luke Hughes, the Devils should consider finding Hughes a new regular partner. That might mean Miller getting another chance or Simon Nemec getting the call to the NHL even with the hesitance to pair two rookies together. If the issue still persists later in the season, the Devils might want to look for an upgrade via a trade.
It’s very early in the season, and the Devils have plenty of time to find their stride. Their next game is against the Florida Panthers on Monday.