Ty Smith gains confidence in his comeback
The New Jersey Devils picked up a big win Sunday after thanks in part to the return of Ty Smith. He was back in the lineup after sitting out a few games as a healthy scratch.
It was a hell of a win. The New Jersey Devils defeated the St. Louis Blues in overtime. Dougie Hamilton scored the game-winning goal in overtime, showing he’s the better defenseman and the Devils should treat him that way. Before Hamilton could score his own goal, a defender who desperately needed a win got one.
Ty Smith has been healthy since his big win against the Vancouver Canucks last Monday. After this big victory, the Devils lost two games against the New York Rangers and the Columbus Blue Jackets, two teams from the Metropolitan Division. The Devils dropped Colton White from the roster and brought Smith back.
It took three games to realize it was time to return the former 1st round pick to the roster. It seems the time off has been good for Smith. In just under 10 minutes into his first match, Smith was back on the board. He took a pass from the slot and put a one-timer in the back of the net.
Ty Smith is back in force. He scored a goal on a nice pass from Jesper Bratt. It was one of the most needed goals of the season. Say what you want about what’s important to the New Jersey Devils for the rest of the season, getting Ty Smith started is as important as anything.
Ty Smith needed a goal in the worst possible way for the New Jersey Devils.
There’s a nice streak of young defenders out there right now. Cale Makar is the best among them, but Quinn Hughes, Miro Heiskanen, Adam Fox and more are taking over the league. Ty Smith looked like he might have been in the same conversation as these players. He wasn’t there yet, but he finished seventh in Calder Trophy voting last season, higher than any other defender.
Smith had work to do, but he was still so young at 21. He will grow in his role. Then this season came. Call it a sophomore meltdown, or whatever you want to call it, it was incredibly concerning. Smith has made more mistakes than anyone on the ice. His impacts on the ice were among the worst in the league. He was on the ice for 41 goals against at even strength and only 27 goals for the Devils.
The best part of his comeback was the confidence he showed at the end of the game. He told Devils inside reporter Amanda Stein that he never wanted to be a healthy scratch again. Seeing that mentality shows that that healthy scratch actually meant something this time. Hope it lasts.
He was on the ice again for two goals conceded on Sunday, but neither really felt his fault. It happened right when he was on the ice. The Devils shouldn’t worry too much, but don’t let this become a habit.
The Devils need Smith in the roster for the rest of the season. This is one of the most important developments of the last two months. If Smith can get back on track, that’s as important as anything right now. The Devils are starting to get the right pieces to make next year’s team very good. They signed Ryan Graves and Jonas Siegenthaler to reasonable deals next season. Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier are both signed long-term. The only real deal they need to make is Jesper Bratt, and that one is going to be expensive.
However, if they can get Smith on the right track, that defense is pretty much set. Even if they trade Damon Severson, they will have to make some moves on the right side, but they will have the money available since Smith always does the minimum. If they can get at least one second-line defender, things will be much better. If Sunday was any indication, at least it is possible.