The Detroit Red Wings were the last team in the NHL to pick up a win, but their next three victories have come a lot quicker. Detroit’s streak came to an end against the Edmonton Oilers. One of the reasons Detroit has shown improvement is due to the solid play of Michael Rasmussen.
Rasmussen has points in his last three games; including a pair of goals in the first two games of this run. He spent the early portion of the season watching from the press box as a healthy scratch. However, he’s worked hard to crack the lineup and play a role.
Michael Rasmussen Learning on the Job
It was slow going for the 6-foot-6 forward in the early part of the season. Rasmussen was left out of the lineup a few times and many wondered if he’d be sent back to the WHL with the Tri-City Americans. He was close to reaching the nine-game deadline before the first year of his entry-level contract would kick in.
The Vancouver native had already dominated the junior ranks and he really had nothing to prove at that level. He dominated defences with 31 goals and 28 assists for 59 points for Tri-City. However, he wasn’t eligible to play for the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill and general manager Ken Holland decided that Rasmussen should learn on the job with the big club. Rasmussen is a big body but needed to add some mass to his frame. His work in the weight room is showing. Detroit had an extended break in the schedule and Rasmussen took full advantage of it.
Rasmussen wasn’t worried about going back to juniors and was confident that he’d stay in Detroit.
“I don’t even think he thought about it,” Blashill said of whether the speculation impacted Rasmussen. “He planned on being here the whole year. He doesn’t know why we made a big deal out of it.”
Thriving with New Linemates
Injuries have forced Blashill’s hand and made him juggle his lineup. Players like Thomas Vanek, Frans Nielsen and Andreas Athanasiou are out of the lineup and more opportunities have opened up. Rasmussen has settled into a line with Gustav Nyquist and new acquisition Jacob de La Rose.
The trio has meshed well rather quickly and Blashill has said the group is one of the team’s best lines. Rasmussen has won over players like de la Rose with his big frame and ability to protect the puck.
The 19-year-old has also earned a spot on the power play with his 221-pound frame. He’s a traditional pain in front of the net as he’s used on screens and to cause trouble.
All of these things have led to increased ice time for the highly-touted rookie. He played a season-high 17 minutes, 31 seconds in the loss to the Oilers. Blashill has rewarded good play with increased minutes and Rasmussen has earned his keep.
What it Means for the Future
Fans should feel encouraged by the team’s recent run of play despite the team being unlikely to make the playoffs. Rasmussen’s confidence is growing and he’s starting to get a grasp of life in the NHL.
There may be some slip-ups along the way, but the signs are encouraging. He’s been making plays and holding onto that puck. This strong play is making his veteran teammates take notice.
DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 22: Detroit Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen (27) skates during a regular season NHL hockey game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Detroit Red Wings on October 22, 2018, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)