DETROIT – Quick update from Wings practice Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.
Defenseman Brendan Smith will be back in the lineup Thursday against the San Jose Sharks, after being a healthy scratch the last two games.
“I just wanted the puck looked after better,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s a better player than that. He’s had a few days to watch and think about it. I think Smitty is an ultra-competitive guy, who has a huge upside, but he’s just got to take care of the puck better. In other words after he has it who has it.”
In 26 games this season, Smith has five assists and is a minus-1.
“I thought I had been playing well,” Smith said. “I think there are things that I need to work on, but next to that if I keep working hard I’ll get back in the lineup.
“You just keep working hard to get yourself back in the lineup,” Smith continued. “You come in everyday and just do what you can do best to your ability to try and get back into the lineup.”
Smith said he thinks this was the first time throughout his playing career that he’s been a healthy scratch.
“There are a lot of good players so there’s as good a chance for anyone to get into the lineup,” Smith said. “Anytime you’re not playing it’s frustrating for sure.
“The competition is great,” Smith added. “That’s why this does happen and the whole reason why anyone can make it into the lineup. You just have to work hard and try every day to get back in the lineup.
The Wings are just 1-3-1 in their last five games at home.
“We’ve survived by winning on the road and not at home,” Babcock said. “We have to be better at home. We were good early at home and not on the road and now it’s vice versa so if I had the answer we’d fix it, but in saying that maybe we’re try and be too cute at home and more simplified on the road. We need to play a simple game and our guys understand that too. I thought we did that (Sunday).”
The Wings currently hold down the eighth playoff seed in the Western Conference, two points ahead of Dallas and Columbus.
“It seems like the teams that are below us are hounding us and the teams that are above us are trying to win every game that they can,” defenseman Jonathan Ercisson said. “It feels like if you win one game the other guys are winning too. It’s like there is no room for error here. We have to be really good here over the last part of the season.
“We’ve been way too inconsistent at home,” Ericsson added. “I don’t know what the reason is. We need to find a way here in order to make the playoffs.”