| The Detroit News
Detroit t Michael Rasmussen didn’t get much notice he was going into the Red Wings lineup Monday afternoon, but maybe that was a good thing.
Rasmussen and Frans Nielsen entered the lineup replacing Robby Fabbri and Adam Erne, who were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list.
Rasmussen, the Wings’ 2017 first-round pick, has been on the Wings’ taxi squad, practicing with the team daily and waiting for an opportunity to play.
That chance came Monday, with Rasmussen earning an assist on Bobby Ryan’s first of two goals in the 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“It was good to get back in the lineup and play a game with the guys,” Rasmussen said a Zoom session Tuesday with media. “It’s been a good experience so far with the taxi squad. It’s good to be around the guys and work on your game and skate and get some work in the gym, too.
“I’m just trying to stay be ready and be ready to play when you’re called upon.”
The taxi squad consists of four to six players — the Wings are carrying six — and is something new this season, with teams needing the extra bodies while playing amid a pandemic.
The Wings’ taxi squad is skating on its own in the morning, and several or more players will join in, typically, to skate with the Wings’ main team during their practice later in the morning.
They’ll end the day with work in the weight room.
But Rasmussen has been waiting for that opportunity to get into the lineup, and it finally came — on quick notice — Monday.
“Not a lot of time to think about it,” Rasmussen said, talking about how the day went. “I got up and I got a text I was in (the lineup).. I just got mentally ready and had some food and headed to the rink. It was good to have an early game (noon start) so I didn’t think about it much and just went about my job.”
Rasmussen centered a line with Ryan and Filip Zadina, and earned an assist on Ryan’s goal off a faceoff that Rasmussen won.
Rasmussen had some real bright spots during training camp, catching the attention of coach Jeff Blashill.
Blashill has talked positively about Rasmussen’s potential as a net-front presence, and potential as a 6-foot-5 shut-down type of center.
“He’s been solid,” Blashill said. “It wasn’t a pure face-off win (Monday on Ryan’s goal) but it was a face off goal, so that’s great. He just has to make sure he’s playing fast, fast in the defensive zone and sprinting to spots and playing fast.
“When he gets the puck, when he does that (playing fast), he’s an effective player.”
The Wings haven’t told Rasmussen anything regarding the near future, whether it’s how close Fabbri is to returning or whether Rasmussen could be headed to Grand Rapids once the AHL season begins.
Rasmussen is hoping to impress while he’s in the NHL lineup.
“I just have to play my game, work hard, and help the team,” Rasmussen said. “Just game after game, and earn another game, and more ice (time) and help the team.”
Defenseman Danny DeKeyser only was credited with 13 minutes, 19 seconds of ice time Monday against Columbus, and Blashill wouldn’t speculate as to whether DeKeyser would play Tuesday night in the back end of the back-to-back two-game series, not to mention, the Wings’ fourth game in six nights.
DeKeyser essentially missed all last season due to a herniated disc, and didn’t play in a game during the calendar year 2020.
The Wings would like to bring DeKeyser along slowly.
“We’ll certainly do what is best for Danny DeKeyser for the long term health of Danny and the short term health, and his availability,” Blashill said. “We’ll take make those decisions every single night and we’ll do what is best for Danny DeKeyser.”
The Wings could soon be getting their first look at defenseman Christian Djoos.
The Wings claimed Djoos off waivers January 9 from Anaheim. But Djoos has been on the COVID-19 protocol list, and hasn’t been able to practice.
Blashill, though, indicated Djoos could be on the ice for Thursday’s practice, and might be available to play this weekend in Chicago (the Wings play there Friday and Sunday).
“That’ll give him a few days to skate, gives us Thursday’s practice, and certainly I’m not committing to it, but we’ll see,” Blashill said. “I haven’t bee on the ice with yet, and we’ll see where our team is at (health and lineup-wise), and how how looks in practice.
“Ultimately he’s someone who can bring an element on the power play and we’re hoping he can helps us with that.”