Columbus, Ohio — Evgeny Svechnikov isn’t used to sitting while a hockey game takes place in front of him.
But that’s what Svechnikov has been doing in his first two games since being recalled from Grand Rapids after Frans Nielsen (concussion symptoms) was injured.
Svechnikov played 5 minutes, 25 seconds on eight shifts in Friday’s 3-2 loss in Columbus, one night after playing 9:09 in his season debut in the loss to Vegas.
The plan was for Svechnikov to stay with the Red Wings these final weeks of the regular season so management and the coaching staff can get a fair evaluation of the 2015 first-round draft pick.
But through two games, coach Jeff Blashill is finding it hard to get Svechnikov on the ice.
“It’s hard certainly at five or six minutes, to play,” Blashill said. “But the other side of it is, when he gets a shift, he has to make an impact.
“It’s the chicken or the egg — what comes first, do you grab ice or do you give ice?
“He’ll get another chance to play and, hopefully, we can get him some more minutes. But with that said, he has to make sure he grabs it.”
Svechnikov had a fine rookie pro season last year in Grand Rapids, and was a key player for the Griffins during their run toward a Calder Cup championship.
But after not making the Red Wings out of training camp Svechnikov started the season slowly in Grand Rapids, only turning things around the second half of the season.
It hasn’t helped Svechnikov that the Red Wings have trailed in each of his first two games, with Blashill shortening his bench in an effort to rally.
“It’s a hard league to make,” Blashill said. “And it’s hard for a reason. Guys that want to make a real big impact, they have to go out and have great, great shifts right away and say ‘I want more ice’.
“He did nothing wrong, he was fine. But he has to make sure he keeps going and, then, hopefully his first couple shifts next game are great.”
Svechnikov made a good impression while playing in two games in a brief call-up late last season, displaying the skill and speed to be a key fixture in the lineup.
“This time of year, when we get some injuries, it’s good we can call guys up and see what we have,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “He’s a strong kid, strong on the puck, and he has a really good shot. He’s one of the guys we really believe in.”