Scoring has slowed, but Wings' rookie Raymond contributing in other ways
Rookie forward Lucas Raymond has hit a goal-scoring lull. But he remains productive in other departments.
Raymond has eight assists in the last 10 games, he's still playing well defensively and his confidence isn't wavering.
As coach Jeff Blashill sees it, Raymond isn't in any sort of slump.
“I haven’t seen a dropoff in his play,” Blashill said Monday.
In Sunday's 4-3 Wings' shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the three best rookies in the NHL — Raymond, defenseman Moritz Seider and Ducks forward Trevor Zegras — played and made an impact.
Zegras had a goal and assist. Raymond and Seider had assists.
But Raymond was the most noticeable of the three, with fine plays all over the ice
Raymond played a strong game at both ends of the ice. That he continues to produce scoring opportunities for himself and others, while not cheating defensively, pleases Blashill.
“He’s had chances in multiple games in a row,” Blashill said. “They just haven't gone in, and that’s the way it is. This is a hard league to score all the time. He’s been a consistently good player defensively, and he’s a guy who goes out and does the right things to win a shift.
"Ultimately that’s what you’re looking for. If every player goes on the ice and they win their shift on a consistent basis, meaning you gain territory, you play in the offensive zone more, you create more chances than you give up, you’re going to win a ton as a hockey team.
"He does those things. He’s still continuing to contribute on the scoresheet and off the scoresheet. The goals will come.”
Like any other offensive player, goals are important for confidence. In that regard, Blashill said Raymond could use a goal.
"Every player feels more confident when they've scored, it's just reality," Blashill said. "We can pretend that's not the case and focus on the other stuff, but every guy likes that, an offensive player likes to score. The key is being mentally tough and when you're not scoring, that you are finding other ways to contribute and he certainly has."
Larkin, Bertuzzi on mend
The Wings had an optional mid-afternoon practice Monday in San Jose. Neither Dylan Larkin (upper-body injury) nor Tyler Bertuzzi (wrist) took the ice.
Blashill had no update on when either forward could return.
Larkin left Sunday's game after one period. Video replays showed Larkin shaking off some sort of discomfort in his left hand after a collision with a Ducks player. The Wings have been mum on the injury.
“He’s going through some further evaluations," Blashill said. "When I have more, I’ll give you an update. Right now, I can’t say if it’s day-to-day or anything greater than that. I don’t know that answer. Once I have more information, I’ll let you know.”
Defenseman Marc Staal talked about Larkin's importance to the Wings. Larkin leads the Wings with 16 goals an 32 points.
“He’s obviously a massive part of our team and our success,” Staal said. “It’s a challenge for everyone when he goes out to step up and play better."
Bertuzzi suffered a cut in overtime when Zegras' skate blade caught Bertuzzi during a scrum after a faceoff. Bertuzzi quickly skated off the ice and headed to the Wings' dressing room.
“I guess we’ll see after the pregame skate,” said Blashill, of Bertuzzi's availability for Tuesday's game against the Sharks. “He didn’t skate (Monday), so after the pregame skate I’ll have a better feel.”
Turn in the road
The Wings are 4-11-2 on the road this season, and haven't won away from Little Caesars Arena since Nov. 30, when they defeated the Bruins in Boston.
Staal feels the Wings need to take charge early on the road, as they do at LCA.
"It's just a mindset, a mentality," he said. "We get into a wait-and-see mode when we get on the road instead of just playing our game like we do at home. It’s tough to win on the road, and it’s something we have to learn as a team to do. Your mentality needs to be that you’re going to be the aggressor, and you’re going to play your game and make them adjust to you."
Twitter: @ tkulfan
Red Wings at Sharks
►Faceoff: 10:30 p.m., Tuesday, SAP Arena
►Outlook: The Sharks (19-16-1) ended a four-game road trip with two wins, after two ugly losses including a 6-2 loss Jan. 4 at LCA to the Wings. ... RW Timo Meier (14 goals, 38 points) and C Tomas Hertl (20 goals) have led the way offensively.