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Brendan Smith is back in Babcock's lineup

Red Wings defenseman was healthy scratch in Tampa

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(AP File)

DETROIT – Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith has been a healthy scratch since causing a bench minor penalty April 9 in Montreal. 

The official tagged him for batting the puck with his glove while it was in play and he was sitting on the Detroit bench. 

The penalty, which Smith didn't serve because he wasn't on the ice at the time, led to a power play goal for the Canadiens and a week off for Smith.

It was quite the low point. 

He'll be back in the lineup Tuesday night for Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Monday.

Rookie Alexey Marchenko was playing in his place and paired up with Danny DeKeyser. The two playoff games in Tampa were Marchenko's first and second of his short NHL career -- he was -3 and went without a shot on goal. In fact, the 23-year-old Russian has played just 14 career NHL games, not including the two playoff ones. 

Smith has more experience, though it's not a ton. He has appeared in all of Detroit's past 19 playoff games -- 5 last year and 14 the year before. He had 5 points in those 14 games in 2013. 

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What Smith can bring back to Detroit's lineup:

Speed, some grit and hopefully a bit of an edge against a Tampa team that's been playing physical hockey. There's no question the 26-year-old is a skilled defenseman, but his judgement and stability has been in question -- remember when he nearly "fought" the beast who is Zdeno Chara last year?

He has to be smarter. Period. And if he is he can be a huge asset on the back end. He can jump up into the rush and help pop in a goal or two and rely on his speed to get back into position on defense. 

It's likely he'll be avoiding any time in the sin-bin for anything less than, well, anything. The leash is tight at this point. 

The left-handed Smith likely gets paired with veteran Marek Zidlicky. 

As for Marchenko, that was a rather forgettable playoffs debut in what likely will be a fruitful, long NHL career. He has that elusive right-handed shot and plays like he's seen way more than a couple dozen NHL games. He's just not quite there yet. 

Game 3 is 7 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena (TV: NBCS). 


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