Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill talks about the development of Michael Rasmussen. The Detroit News
Montreal — Coach Jeff Blashill shuffled his lineup going into Monday’s game against Canadiens and the odd man out is rookie forward Michael Rasmussen.
The question moving forward, now, is whether Rasmussen can rise above this one-game benching and get back into the lineup.
Martin Frk made his season debut as Rasmussen, who like many other Wings’ forwards have struggled to begin the season, took a seat in the press box.
“We looked a the last number of games, and Raz is a real good player and he’s going to be a good player, but as a young player, sometimes it’s good to take a breather,” Blashill said. “He’s had a tough last couple of games and we’ll give him a chance to take a little breather and watch from up top.
“We’ll see what he can learn from watching and get back at it Wednesday (for practice) and fight his way back into a good spot.”
Rasmussen has a point, an assist, in five games with five shots on net and is an even plus-minus, while averaging 12 minutes, 33 seconds of ice time.
Not great, but not worst on the roster, either.
Rasmussen was disappointed by the decision but understood.
“For sure I’m disappointed, I want to play and help the team,” Rasmussen said. “I’ll keep working and just watch the game tonight and just kind of learn.”
For Rasmussen, 19, the issue is what's best for his long-term development.
Michael Rasmussen of the Red Wings discusses being a healthy scratch and adapting to speed of NHL. The Detroit News
If Rasmussen plays more than 10 games, it counts as the first year of his entry-level pro contract. If the Wings return Rasmussen to his Tri-City (WHL) junior team before the 10-game mark, it doesn’t affect his contract.
Blashill said he talked with general manager Ken Holland Sunday. Blashill was only thinking about Monday, and the short-term, but also said Rasmussen’s long-term development is the most important aspect.
“Right now we’re talking about tonight and that’s it,” Blashill said. “A lot of times with any player, but especially young players, they’re best served rather than letting it spiral the wrong way — it’s been a two tough games — rather than sprial the wrong way, let’s nip it in the bud right now and get a breather and get right back at it.
“The way the rules are set up, it’s either the NHL or juniors and that’s unfortunate for a lot of guys. Raz is going to be a real good NHL player, I have tons of belief in him. I’m hoping that he moves from this and is an even better player. He keeps taking steps in the right direction.
“He’s going to be a real good NHL player, how quick, we’ll see, so we’ll keep monitoring.”
The Wings certainly will not sit Rasmussen for extended periods of time.
“One hundred percent, again, we’re talking about one game tonight and we’ll see what tomorrow brings,” Blashill said. “But with all of our young players, we’re extremely cognizant of what is best for their long-term development.
“Without a doubt, we’ll continue to monitor that.”
“Out West (losses in Los Angeles and Anaheim) it wasn’t quite as quick, it was more of a big man’s game and he excelled,” Blashill said. “The last two have been quick, and he has to learn to make sure he’s skating the second he has the puck, or people are on top of him quick.”
Rasmussen admitted the speed of the NHL has been eye-opening.
“The overall speed and limited space, it’s obviously a tight game,” Rasmussen said. “Different parts of the game are tough. I’m doing a lot of positive things in a lot of areas and some negative stuff, as well. That kind of stuff, I will clean up and learn from.
“I trust Blash and the coaches to make good decisions for me, so I’ll go up there (press box) and learn.”
When asked about the potential of returning to junior, Rasmussen sternly replied he hadn’t thought about that possibility.
“I’m not really thinking about it,” Rasmussen said. “I’m playing for the Red Wings right now.”
Defenseman Dennis Cholowski (upper body) returned to the lineup, replacing Danny DeKeyser (hand). Cholowski missed the last two games.
DeKeyser will be examined Tuesday to get a better determination of how long he’ll be out.
… Former Wings forward Tomas Tatar and defenseman Xavier Ouellet are both with Montreal, and each player has played well in the early going. Ouellet, a native of Montreal, was passed on the depth chart by numerous young Wings defensemen.
“We had a number of young defensemen that were coming in and we knew wanted to get a look at,” Blashill said. “I never doubted whether Xavier was an NHL player. He’s an NHL player and he’s doing a good job here.”