Detroit — At 52.6 percent, the Red Wings are third in the NHL in faceoff wins.
Among their six closest competitors, the Flyers (55.9 percent), Blues (52.8), Kings (52.6), Predators (52.3), Wild (51.9) and Hurricanes (51.8), there is an even split between winning and losing teams.
So, how important are faceoffs?
“Does it help the team? I think it really helps in situations, for sure,” Jeff Blashill said.
“I don’t think it totally dictates the game. But, it certainly can help in situations: specialty teams, ends of games, those types of things.
“It’s situationally important.”
Among the Wings who take faceoffs most frequently, Luke Glendening (57.6 percent), Dylan Larkin (56.8) and Frans Nielsen (50.9) are winning more than losing.
Glendening ranks fifth in the NHL and Larkin 10th, going into play Monday.
For Larkin, it has been three seasons of hard work, since he switched from wing to center. On Saturday against the Bruins, he won 15 of 15 faceoffs. On Sunday against the Avalanche, he won 12 of 20.
Larkin is not exactly in a pitched battle for more ice time. But, centers who win faceoffs tend to get it.
“When I am sending someone out for a D-zone faceoff, when I am sending someone out for an O-zone faceoff, I was very aware of what Dylan’s record was on faceoffs,” Blashill said, referring specifically to the game against the Bruins.
“And, so he’s going to get out there instead of maybe a certain other center because they’re not winning it.
“It’s the same thing on the power play,” Blashill said. “If you’re winning faceoffs on the power play and the other unit is not, then you’re probably going to get out there a little more.”
Rasmussen staying put
A few weeks ago, what the Wings would do about Michael Rasmussen seemed the issue of the day.
One thought was, if he went back to juniors or if he stayed on the roster in Detroit but did not dress regularly, he could play in the World Junior Championship.
But, when Canada invited players to its national camp Monday, it became even clearer Rasmussen’s roster spot is in Detroit.
Canada invited Joe Veleno, a forward selected in the first round, 30th, in 2018, and Jared McIsaac, a defenseman selected in the second round, 36th, also this year.
But, “Rass” as the Wings and coaches call him, already has a roster spot.
And, it is in the NHL.
Canada could still select Rasmussen. But, the perceived advantage of finding him playing time is moot, and the Red Wings need him in the NHL.
Rasmussen has tallied five goals and four assists in 24 games and is increasingly trusted all around the ice.
On a line with Luke Glendening and Tyler Bertuzzi, Rasmussen has already played against some of the opponents’ best offensive lines.
“I think he’s real smart defensively,” Blashill said. “I think he’s really good in his own end.
“He has been really good, for the most part, on the wall, and that’s a huge part of being good defensively and not getting hemmed in. He’s done a pretty good job of that.
“The combination of Bert, Glennie and Rass has been a good group defensively,” he said. “Certainly, I have tons of trust in Rass defensively.”
The World Juniors start Dec. 26 and finish on Jan. 5 in Victoria, British Columbia.
Tied with Osgood
Jonathan Quick of the Kings prevailed over the former Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek of the Hurricanes in a goaltender’s battle late Monday in Los Angeles.
Quick picked up his 50th career shutout to tie him with Chris Osgood for 29th on the all-time list.
Mrazek allowed one of 34 shots on goal, at 17:47 of the third period, in a 2-0 loss.
It was Mrazek’s 192d career game, and he is 3-4-2 this season with a 2.57 goals-against average and .894 save percentage.
Red Wings vs. Lightning
Faceoff: 7:30 Wednesday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
Outlook: The Lightning play the Devils Monday night, while he Red Wings are off. Tampa’s injuries include G Andrei Vasilevskiy and D Anton Stralman. The Lightning entered play Monday with the most points in the NHL, 39, and tied for the second-best goal differential, 24. The Wings are in 21st in the league standings and 22nd in goal differential.