Smith 2013-2014 will be fine. He'll learn, he'll grow, and he'll be forced to either sink or swim. Ericsson was the same way. Kindl was a spare part before Babcock showed him his "ticket home" so-to-speak. Smith has Kronwall-caliber potential, and I think we the leadership in the room and the faith of the coaching staff, he could very well reach that sooner rather than later.
That said, Smith 2012-2013 has been a mess. The 2nd goal the other night was a prime example of a young player getting lost in the play, trying to do too much instead of manning his post and playing his part. Puck along the boards, man-on-man trying to retrieve the puck and he gets preoccupied with the battle in the corner, moving to support 30 feet from his net and forgetting his responsibility.
He'll eventually work these gaffs out of his system, but in the meantime, its going to be a bumpy ride. I do agree with rick zombo in that regard. Should have had Smith in more last season, getting his lumps while we had a more potent back-end to support and mentor. As it stands now, he is playing Top 4 minutes, getting costly education on the job, and the only steady veteran defenseman worth leaning on for support is Kronwall.
If Smith costs us this series, he won't have done it alone, and he'll learn. Let's just hope he plays level in Chicago tomorrow.