Defenseman Brendan Smith will be back in the lineup for the Detroit Red Wings tonight against the Sharks after being a healthy scratch the past two games.

"I just wanted the puck looked after better," coach Mike Babcock said of Smith sitting out. "I want him to be better. He's a better player than that, and I expect him to be better. He's had a few days to watch and think about it. I think Smitty's an ultracompetitive guy who has a huge upside, who has to take care of the puck better. In other words, after he has it, who has it?"

Smith has four giveaways and is minus-five over his past five games.

"I think how I took it is you have to watch from the stands and figure out what got you out of the lineup," Smith said of being scratched.

He has no goals and five assists and a minus-one in 26 games this season.

Smith said he needs to make "a good first pass" and not try to make things more complicated. He said he needed to play the "Nicklas Lidstrom way," making sure the first pass gets through.

"Try to keep positive and get myself in the lineup again," Smith said.

With nine defensemen, Smith knows the Wings could decide again to scratch him if he's not effective.

"If they throw me in the lineup against San Jose, I'm just going to play my best and play hard," Smith said. "Try to do what I can do so I can stay in the lineup."

Smith said he was frustrated to be sitting and said that would be the case for anyone who is a healthy scratch.

The Wings are battling to make the playoffs with nine games remaining and were eighth in the Western Conference after Tuesday's games.

"I love when it gets down to crunch time and playoff time," Smith said. "It's cool to play in those games, and it's a lot of fun for myself. I think I'm a very competitive person, so once it gets to be like that, I kind of feed off it."