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Brendan Smith scratched again as Alain Vigneault cites shortcomings

The Rangers' Brendan Smith and Coyotes' Brendan Perlini

The Rangers' Brendan Smith and Coyotes' Brendan Perlini hit the boards during a game at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 26, 2017. Credit: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett

Brendan Smith was a healthy scratch for the fourth consecutive game and sixth time this season.

Vigneault said Smith, who signed a four-year, $17.4 million contract during the summer and had offers from other teams, would be back in the lineup “at some point” but has “areas he needs to improve.”

Vigneault said the former Red Wing “needs to be stronger on his puck battles. We know he can play with an edge, can play with a bite.” He added that Smith, 28, needed to be “a little bit quicker going back for pucks and making that right initial play.”

Smith was penciled in as a top-four defenseman, but has not reached that level consistently this season. “That’s part of internal competition,” Vigneault said.

Blue chips

Boo Nieves, still feeling some effects of the flu, sat out for the third consecutive game, and Paul Carey filled in . . . D Steven Kampfer, who was a healthy scratch for eight games, started his fifth straight. “He’s real dependable, keeps its simple and high-percentage, I think he knows his limitations, he’s not a very big player but skates well and is good in puck battles,” said Vigneault.

New York Sports