Red Wings hopeful Michael Rasmussen can make positive impact in return
Evgeny Svechnikov took advantage of his opportunity last weekend. Now, Michael Rasmussen gets his chance.
The Wings recalled Rasmussen from Grand Rapids on Tuesday, given the injuries to centers Dylan Larkin (upper body) and Robby Fabbri (lower body).
Fabbri, coach Jeff Blashill said, was a game-time decision Tuesday against Columbus. But, regardless of whether Fabbri was in the lineup, Rasmussen — a 2017 first-round draft pick — was for sure going to play, especially after glowing reports from general manager Steve Yzerman and Grand Rapids Griffins coach Ben Simon.
“Reports from Ben and Steve are is that he has played very well; he’s done a good job,” Blashill said in Tuesday’s pregame Zoom chat with media. “He’s gone down and done what he needed to do in a short period of time, in the sense of going down and playing fast and playing without fear, and I mean that without fear of making mistakes, and playing physical and being hard on people.
“In all, the feeling from Ben is he’s taken a huge step from a year ago and that’s a positive thing for all of us. Hopefully he can come in here, and it’s a different league, it’s a different animal for sure, but that doesn’t mean his game doesn’t translate well. I’m hoping it does translate well.”
Svechnikov, a 2015 first-round pick, had a goal in both of last weekend’s games in Chicago in his first stint in the Wings’ lineup this season.
Rasmussen played in eight games with the Wings in January, with three points (all assists).
In seven games with Grand Rapids, Rasmussen has six points (two goals, four assists).
At 6-foot-6, 229 pounds, Rasmussen has the size and temperament to become a formidable shutdown center, along with a powerful net-front presence, the Wings envision him being.
“One thing to our team is the real size,” Blashill said. “When you play against teams like Columbus, who protect the middle very well and have very good defensemen, it’s good to have that kind of size in the lineup.”
The Wings had a morning skate in Detroit and flew to Columbus afterward, a deviation from the normal, pre-pandemic routine.
Normally, teams would fly into a city the night before a game.
But during this shortened, divisional-schedule based season, more teams are choosing to fly day of game, especially if it’s a short flight between cities, to limit exposure in hotels.
This was the third time the Wings chose to fly the day of a game. The other two times were trips to Chicago.
“The more you do it, the more you get used to it,” Blashill said. “Certainly disruption of routine you worry about, (but) fortunately it’s not really that taxing. But it is a different routine, and this is the third time, so I’m hoping we’re even better at it this time than the other last two times, meaning we start the game really running.”
The strict restrictions for teams on the road also played a factor.
“We’ve spent a lot of nights in hotel rooms in any year, and this year without the ability to get out and really get outside your hotel room, we just felt it was important to have those extra nights at home, rather than have them sitting in a hotel room doing nothing,” Blashill said.
Blashill said Larkin, who missed two Chicago games after colliding with Nashville defenseman Ben Harpur and injuring his left arm in Thursday's game against the Predators, wouldn't play in the two games this week.
"My guess would be through these next two games, tonight and Thursday (in Carolina), and then I would hope to have him back when we see Tampa (next week)," Larkin said. "We have a pretty long break (four days off after the Carolina game), so we hope to have him back. He's not on the trip, so he's not going to play (this week's two games)."
Without Larkin, Fabbri or Tyler Bertuzzi (upper body), the Wings have received much needed secondary scoring.
"It's an important piece of it," Blashill said. "Hopefully, eventually, we can get everybody healthy and a lot of them can continue to contribute. We've gone through long stretches of the season where we couldn't score enough, and we could have won more games if we had scored an extra goal a night.
"It's good those guys are scoring and hopefully feeling good about themselves. We just need to make sure we spread that depth of scoring as much as we can."
Bertuzzi missed the entire month of February, after being injured the last game in January in Florida, and Blashill said Bertuzzi is at least another week away from returning.
Blashill said Troy Stecher (lower body) remains day-to-day, and Patrik Nemeth was removed from the COVID-19 protocol list.