Detroit — The acquisition in October of Jacob de la Rose wasn’t greeted with much excitement by Red Wings fans.
But considering how de la Rose has played, and what he could develop into in the future, this could be a shrewd move going forward.
A 6-foot-3, 216-pound center, de la Rose is only 23 and already has 166 games of NHL experience.
Montreal placed de la Rose on waivers in October because of a roster crunch, and de la Rose had missed the start of the season due to injury.
The Wings were, and are, happy to have added an NHL forward for the cost of — nothing.
“He’s been a good player for us,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s done a real good job on the penalty kill. He’s a very good, sound defensive player. I would say at times too defensive and passive, and that’s one thing we’ve tried to work on is getting him to be a bit more aggressive, from taking time and space away and be willing to attack more offensively.”
And that’s been the knock against de la Rose, going back to his days in Montreal.
The Canadiens always felt there was more offense in de la Rose that simply needed to come out. But it never did, or at least quick enough for their liking.
In 47 games this season, de la Rose has seven points (three goals, four assists), with a minus-6 plus-minus rating.
“I know there’s more there,” Blashill said. “It’s just a matter of it clicking. One of the hard things in this league is making decisions on guys who are 22 years old. There’s a lot of hockey ahead of him and we think there’s more. We’re going to keep pushing for more out of him.
“He’s made his way into the league as a real good defensive player. But he has a lot of skill and we want to get that skill unleashed a little bit more. With that said, he’s a guy who has played with real good players. He played with (Filip) Forsberg and (Viktor) Arvidsson at the world championships (for Sweden) and that’s one of the reasons we liked him, he has the mind and skill to play with real good players.”
Forward Tyler Bertuzzi returned to the lineup Saturday in Philadelphia with impact, scoring a goal and assisting on Nyquist’s goal, after missing seven games with concussion symptoms.
Bertuzzi played 19:32 and made the tranisition back into the lineup look smooth.
“He’s been off a little bit but he’s been able to skate a lot, so that usually helps guys,” Blashill said. “He’s a real smart player, so real smart players tend to find ways to have positive impacts in the game. And he’s real competitive, so he won tons of competition battles.”
Bertuzzi’s physical style creates opportunities for linemates.
“He works hard and it opens up space for the other two guys,” forward Anthony Mantha said.
Frans Nielsen (illness) returned to the Wings’ lineup Sunday, but he replaced another forward who came down sick — Gustav Nyquist.
“It’s a little bit different (of an illness),” Blashill said.
… Sunday’s nightcap of the back-to-back weekend series is a rarity in the NHL these days, but Blashill was excited for the back end of the set.
“I used to do this all the time in college (hockey),” Blashill said. “It’s a little different from a preparation standpoint. Usually our coaches have pre-scouted the opponent a bunch and I break down last night’s game and they bring me lots of stuff from our opponents.
“This is a little bit different. The challenge is that we weren’t very good for 42 minutes (Saturday). We got to find a way to be way better for 42 minutes.”
... Grand Rapids won both of its games over the weekend, with key contributions from several Wings notables.
Filip Zadina scored the overtime winner Saturday, stretching Zadina’s streak to four games with a goal.
Recently demoted Martin Frk had four points (one goals, three assists) in the two games with Grand Rapids, while Dennis Cholowski had two assists in the two games.