Red Wings' power play, Lucas Raymond stand out in 6-4 loss to Blackhawks
Detroit — Lucas Raymond is making it difficult for the Red Wings to keep him off the opening-night roster next week.
The rookie continued his torrid pace Monday in the exhibition season with a goal and assist — and many more good plays — in the Wings' 6-4 loss to Chicago.
The Wings scored all four of their goals on the power play — which was another eye-popping result in an entertaining pre-season game.
But it was Raymond's exciting ability that will make the Wings' decision so difficult in the days ahead — whether to keep him on the NHL roster, or send him to Grand Rapids for more seasoning.
"We don't have to make that decision yet," coach Jeff Blashill said. "He did a good job tonight. He's played good in the games so far, and that's all he can do, play good hockey.
"He has a mature game for a young guy. Obviously he has talent. Let's keep evaluating."
Raymond has two goals and four assists (six points) in three games, and Monday may have been his best all-around game. He made several passes that nearly resulted in goals, and was continuously dangerous with the puck.
"Maybe," said Raymond, on whether Monday's game may have been his best. "It's always tough to say after a game right away. You always have a picture of how it looks like when you're playing, but I felt good. I felt good in the previous games as well."
Raymond's objective heading into this camp was to make the Wings' decision difficult, whether to keep him to send him to Grand Rapids, and he's making it tough.
"(I wanted) to do whatever I could to make the team and do the things I can control and impact," Raymond said. "Then it's up to the staff to decide but I'm just trying to play my game and do the best I can.
"I feel real comfortable. I feel good out there."
Many scouts raved about Raymond's hockey sense entering the 2020 Entry Draft. In his first weeks as a Red Wing, Raymond is showing it to be an apt description.
“There’s structure that we implement and play with, but the reality is the game is extremely fluid and hockey sense is a critical piece to success for an individual and a team,” said Blashill after Monday's morning skate.
“They need to be able to make reads according to what’s thrown at them, and that’s not totally like what’s drawn on the board, and lot of times just from a defensive standpoint.
“There’s also offensive hockey sense, knowing how to maximize your abilities. Lucas has done a good job of both. He’s done a good job of offensively having some deception but also taking what’s given, and defensively he’s done a good job of making reads in a lot of different situations.
"We had him on the penalty kill because we feel like he’s got enough hockey sense as a young guy to go out and kill some penalties. He has great inner drive and really good hockey sense.”
The Wings scored three, count them, three power-play goals in the second period to cut into Chicago's 3-0 lead after one period, and added a fourth power-play goal in the third period.
That's four power-play goals in one game — further giving optimism the Wings may actually have a worthwhile power play this season.
Bobby Ryan, Moritz Seider, Robby Fabbri and Raymond all had power-play goals in an impressive evening for the unit.
"Certainly our puck movement has been good," said Blashill, of what's keyed the power play's success. "We've moved it quick. It's a big piece of what Alex (Tanguay, assistant coach) has tried to do, move it quick and eventually you'll find a seem.
"Don't force pucks and take what is given and quick puck movement, and we've done a pretty good job of that."
The Wings are 8-for-19 on the power play through five games.
Raymond snapped a shot from the dot, beating Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury — the reigning Vezina Trophy winner — tying the game 4-4.
Raymond fed Ryan for the Wings' first power-play goal. Raymond found Ryan near the side of the crease to cut Chicago's lead to 3-1 in the second period.
Tyler Johnson (power play), Jake McCabe and Philipp Kurashev scored first-period goals for Chicago, 5 minutes 18 seconds apart. Mackenzie Entwhistle added the final two goals including converting a Patrick Kane 2-on-1 feed at 10:20 of the third period, breaking a 4-4 tie.
Alex DeBrincat (Farmington) scored an empty-net goal to clinch the outcome.
Fleury preserved the lead with a tremendous glove save on Fabbri in close with 2:40 left in regulation time.
"Chicago had a good lineup tonight, so it gave us a good opportunity to play (against NHL veterans)," Blashill said. "It the first (period) we got our butts kicked (trailing 3-0) pretty good. That was probably the first time we were on our heels like that. It was a good reminder of what that level is like."