Detroit — The Red Wings are back, but if you attended Tuesday, you wound up cheering for a whole lot of future Grand Rapids Griffins.
The Wings opened the exhibition season against Chicago — supposedly the Blackhawks, but mainly a whole lot of their minor league Wolves — and came away with a 5-3 victory.
Michael Rasmussen, fighting for a roster spot after spending all of his rookie season in the NHL with the Wings last season, scored a power-play goal at 15 minutes, 23 seconds of the third period, breaking a 3-3 tie.
Rasmussen, parked in front of Chicago goalie Kevin Lankinen took a pass from Taro Hirose and bounced a shot off a Blackhawks defender and past Lehner.
“That’s what can separate him (Rasmussen), he’s a real good net-front power play guy,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He has pretty soft hands. That’s what I would say is a typical Mike Rasmussen goal and the impact he can have on the game.”
The Wings are playing Rasmussen at center this camp — he was mainly a wing last season. Earning a roster spot will be difficult for Rasmussen, considering Dylan Larkin, Frans Nielsen, Valtteri Filppula and Luke Glendening are all in front of him on the depth chart.
“Definitely I’m thinking about it,” said Rasmussen about the battle for a roster spot. “I want to help the team win. I’m just trying to win a job and helping the team win any way I can.
“I played all year last year on the wing. I haven’t played center in a while but it’s my natural position. It’s just about getting your reps in and your games in.”
Luke Glendening added an empty-net goal with 59 seconds left.
Matt Puempel, Matthew Ford and Chris Terry — all veterans on the Griffins — scored Wings goals.
"There's so many leaders in that room but to be part of the tradition of the Red Wings is great," Luke Glendening said about being named alternate captain. The Detroit News
“Getting back from Traverse City after a tough camp is never easy,” Glendening said. “But we battled hard tonight and our energy and work ethic were there and that’s great for our first game.”
Dominik Kubalik had two Chicago goals (one a power play), and Philip Holm opened the Blackhawks' scoring.
Goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped seven of eight shots before being replaced by Calvin Pickard midway in the game.
Here are some other observations from Tuesday’s exhibition:
► Good for Evgeny Svechnikov, returning back to game action almost a year after tearing his ACL in an exhibition game against Toronto.
Svechnikov skated on a line with Rasmussen and Hirose, threw several hits, took some, and appeared to come out of the game fine. Svechnikov had an assist on Rasmussen's goal.
Svechnikov talked after the morning skate of the frustration, pain, and diligence needed returning from knee surgery like this.
Svechnikov took the first step Tuesday, in what is an important season for him, given it’s the last year of his entry-level contract and the amount of forward prospects in the Wings’ organization continues to grow.
► There’s been plenty of discussion of the Red Wings’ defensive prospects this camp.
Moritz Seider, obviously, has been a big topic of discussion. Being a talented first-round draft pick will initiate such talk.
The expectations surrounding Filip Hronek and Dennis Cholowski continue to be there, and newly signed Oliwer Kaski played so well in Europe, that it’ll be interesting to see how he plays in North America.
You don’t hear as much, anymore, about Joe Hicketts.
There might be a path for Hicketts to make this team as an extra defenseman. For Hicketts to grab a spot he has to manage his game and keep throwing thunderous hits like he delivered in the first period.
But he also has to be responsible defensively. In the second period, Kubalik wheeled around Hicketts and put a backhander past goaltender Calvin Pickard.
►Puempel, Ford and Terry may not be household names for Wings’ fans.
But they will be counted on for offense and veteran leadership in Grand Rapids, where they’ll lead what could be a real young roster.
Puempel had a brief look with the Wings’ late last March, and all three have had solid minor league careers.
► Along with Svechnikov, it was good to see Jacob de la Rose back on the ice for the Wings.
His season cut short by a heart ailment in the season’s final weeks, de la Rose had a minor procedure after the season and was cleared to play.
de la Rose was a one line with Glendening and Christoffer Ehn.
► Howard looked sharp in his time on the ice. Wings fans got their first look at Pickard, who is ticketed to play in Grand Rapids, splitting time with prospect Filip Larsson.