MLive’s Ansar Khan filed a morning notebook discussing the play of Givani Smith, Thomas Greiss’s first win and the Wings’ work to “clog up” the neutral zone.
Regarding Smith, nobody’s suggesting that he’s the second coming of Darren McCarty, but the Gordie Howe Hat Trick-holder in yesterday’s game vs. Florida displayed both the offense and toughness he can bring to the Wings’ “middle six” forwards:
Smith has been shuffled from the taxi squad to the Grand Rapids Griffins and back to the Red Wings over the past few weeks as the NHL club juggled its lineup due to COVID issues, injuries and ineffectiveness.
He has appeared in only five of 13 games, but Smith is tied for sixth on the team with four points. He has earned a regular spot in the lineup, at least for an extended time.
“Tonight was a great example of what he brings to the team, what he’s been bringing every night he’s been in the lineup,” Robby Fabbri said. “He’s got a great mentality and mindset around the rink, coming in when he’s needed and doing his job. You saw tonight he did a little bit of everything – hits, a fight, a goal, and an assist. That’s what we need out of him every time he’s in the lineup.”
Smith brings several elements the Red Wings (3-8-2) need – size, toughness, strong forechecking and a net presence.
“He’s a big, big body and he’s got better skill than people might understand,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He can make a play with the puck. He’s still got to get better on the wall breaking pucks out, but I think he’s done a good job of using his skill and getting to the net front and ultimately, he’s a big man around the net and he’s just hard to contain.”
Continued (paywall); don’t be surprised if Smith is continually moved up and down from the taxi squad as a “paper move” during off days over the next couple of weeks. It won’t affect his status as playing on a regular basis.
Also: Alex Wood, a.k.a. AWood40 on YouTube, happened to post an extended highlight clip from yesterday’s game: