DETROIT >> Brendan Smith isn’t usually one to shy away from speaking his mind in the Wings’ locker room.
But that wasn’t the issue Monday afternoon.
After Wings coach Mike Babcock announced Monday morning on a local radio show that Smith would return to the lineup Tuesday, Smith was asked how he felt about getting back in.
Here’s how the exchange went.
Q: What’s it been like being out?
Smith: What’s it been like?
Q: Disappointing to be scratched?
Smith: Absolutely. Just be ready when called upon.
Q: What have you noticed watching the first two games of the series?
Smith: I think coach came up with a game plan and we’re going to try and stick with that. I think that’s the plan.
Q: Were you told this morning you were going in?
Smith: Nope. Like you guys are the ones telling me so I don’t know.
Q: Babcock mentioned that on the radio.
Smith: OK. Like I said I haven’t been told so I don’t know. I’m just going to be ready when they call me.
Q: What do you need to do to keep in lineup, no turnovers, playing with the puck more?
Smith: Our team likes playing with the puck. That’s kind of our emphasis. We don’t want to turn it over.
Smith: Anybody else?
Q: Been tough to watch games?
Smith: Everybody’s trying to get in. Anyone that’s a Black Ace is trying to get in, whoever’s a Black Ace is trying to play. I think that’s a big thing. All I do is listen to our systems and when I get the call I’ll be able to get in there and play as hard as I can.
Q: You haven’t heard until now, surprised?
Smith: I’m just going to wait until I actually find out. When I find out for sure I’m in the lineup and I’m out there then I’ll be happy and play as hard as I can.
Q: After giving up a lot of shots in Game 1 the team did a better job against that in Game 2, notice why?
Smith: I didn’t play. I think in any game we’re focusing on boxing out and playing hard in front of the net. If you want to ask those questions it would more evident with some of the guys that played the games. I thought there were sometimes when we lacked coverage, but so did their team. That’s just how the game goes, but like I said you should go ask some of the other guys. But what I saw we played well in different areas.
Q: How do you deal with being a healthy scratch?
Smith: Stay positive, that’s the biggest thing and just keep working hard. If you guys saw any of the practices I was working hard and bag skating myself or getting Tony (Granato) to help me out working on things. That was kind of the biggest thing.
Q: Excited to get in?
Smith: Like I said I’m not sure I am, people telling me that I am, but I’ve had that happen before. If I have the chance to play I’ll be happy and I’ll just answer the bell because that’s what I do.
Smith has been a healthy scratch since he gloved the puck intentionally while on the bench against Montreal in the second to last regular season game.
“Smitty can really skate and competes,” said Babcock, who didn’t want to get into the reasoning behind Smith being a healthy scratch. “I don’t think we’re skating good enough and I don’t think we’re competing hard enough. So there are two things.”
Smith will be paired with Marek Zidlicky.
“Yeah for sure,” Justin Abdelkader said when asked if Smith was bothered by sitting out. “I mean this time of year everyone wants to be in the lineup and everyone in here is competitive and fighting for not only a spot in the lineup but ice time.
“You could tell it was getting at him, but he stayed positive and worked hard,” Abdelkader continued. “He’s going to be ready. He’s going to provide some physicality for us. He’s a big defenseman who takes the body, makes it hard for opponents to get to the front of the net. I think he’ll be a big boost, he’s going to come out ready to go.”