The Red Wings are creamed corn. Hey, check out this rather unappetizing variation of something youve always loved. But hey, maybe youll learn to like creamed corn. You never know.
Detroit — The importance of being Michael Rasmussen is that he can score, he is getting more physical and he fills what might be a key slot in the Red Wings rebuilding plans.
The 2018-19 Red Wings are a tough team to figure out. Early on they were getting steamrolled by anybody and everybody, and probably would have keeled over to a wet paper towel tube on skates. They couldnt even put up 20 decent minutes of hockey. But fast forward to November and they dominate teams over the course of the full 60 minutes, and even when they dont they still find a way to pull a fuzzy, adorable win out of the magicians top hat. The criticism has been that the Wings played good teams in October and have been playing mostly bad teams since November started, but that is all about to change. Now they face surprising early-season cup-hopeful, the Boston Bruins.
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That the ninth overall pick in 2017 also seems mature beyond his years speaks of the character and wisdom the Wings seek in drafted personnel. And, the 19-year-old from British Columbia may come with a dividend.
Again, Im kind of just throwing my arms up in the air with Vaneks placement in the lineup and going with what makes sense to me. I imagine Blashill is going to want to shelter him on the third line, which means some shuffling has to happen with Athanasiou, Bertuzzi, Glendening, and Rasmussen. Id think with the way Ras has been playing hell get the promotion, but Bertuzzi is a guy you can trust just about anywhere (the modern Dan Cleary before our very eyes.) This is all assuming Athanasiou returns to center duty, which makes for Glendening on the fourth line. Whatever ends up happening, well keep you posted later today.
At what might be a key point in their reconstruction, Rasmussen may help smash the Wings habitually conservative method of developing players.
Thoughts his sort of development could have happened in the American Hockey League, let alone another year in juniors, should be banished.
Maybe other Red Wings prospects in this and future seasons of redeveloping the once-perennial Stanley Cup contender will benefit from Rasmussens ability to adjust to a sometimes-confounding new reality and grab his piece of it.
Abdelkader – Larkin – ManthaNyquist – Nielsen – Bertuzzi/Rasmussen?Vanek – Athanasiou – Bertuzzi/Rasmussen?Frk – De La Rose – Glendening
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I dont know that its anything too specific, Rasmussen said, when asked after practice Tuesday why the puck is starting to go in for him, with some regularity. Ive had lots of chances.
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I dont really know the exact reason. I just try to play my best and play in a way that will help the team.
A return to major junior hockey might have seemed an alternative. But, the fact of the matter is even Grand Rapids would have been a mistake.
And yet, if the rules governing relations between the NHL and major junior hockey allowed Rasmussen to go the AHL, he might well be skating for the Griffins instead of producing for the Red Wings.
In the nine games before Wednesday, Rasmussen scored five goals and assisted on one. He is on pace for a 20-goal season his rookie year.
Only five other teenagers in the 92-year history of the Red Wings scored goals in three consecutive games: Ted Lindsay, Gordie Howe, Lane Lambert, Steve Yzerman and Dylan Larkin.
(Alex Delvecchio came close, at age 19, with points in three consecutive, from November 7-11, 1951. But his assist Nov. 10 against the Maple Leafs came without a goal.)
But Blashill said he is not certain Rasmussen is much quicker or better adapted to the speed of NHL play.
Then theres Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen. The Bruins need the trio of second-year forwards to take a major stride forward in their growth and development. DeBrusk is the only one so far taking that jump from young prospect to a core player following his outstanding postseason last spring.
I think hes learned that when he has the puck or he doesnt have the puck, he just has to skate more, Blashill said. Hes a good skater, and he just has to make sure hes moving his feet.
I think in the offensive zone hes gotten better at knocking people off the puck, Blashill said.
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Indeed, Rasmussen is less often seen with his head jerking back after a hit. The big man is doing some initiating.
The Bruins could have avoided this situation altogether had Rask held on to the initial glove save before Athanasiosous tying tally. They didnt. And they only have one point to show for it despite a 36-27 shot on goal advantage.
I think weve had to remind him a couple of times, but hes gotten a little more physical, Blashill said. So, now, hes winning more physical battles.
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Those two things combined allow him to do what he does best, the Wings coach said. And thats being at the net when the shot comes in from the point.
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Blashill said he is not certain Rasmussen has learned most or all of the skills and techniques to stay in his office, once he gets there. But he is learning.
Hes like Larks, Blashill said, comparing Rasmussen with Larkin. He wants to be a great player.
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Meanwhile, a line of players have spent arguably too much time in Grand Rapids wondering what it takes to play in Detroit, for the Red Wings.
It goes right along with your skill and your ability, Rasmussen said, of confidence. I try to do an OK job of staying even keel on my confidence and staying upbeat and all that.