Detroit Red Wings trumpet big games from Lucas Raymond, Dylan Larkin in 4-2 win over Blues

Detroit Free Press

Lucas Raymond has been careful about what he eats and making sure he gets enough sleep as he makes his way through the marathon that is an NHL season.

It has paid off with a sensational season so far; the rookie recorded his sixth point in six games Wednesday when the Detroit Red Wings hosted the St. Louis Blues at Little Caesars Arena. Fittingly, Robby Fabbri secured the 4-2 victory when he scored into an empty net against his former teammates.

The Wings, who nipped a four-game winless streak, improved to 6-2-2 at home and 9-9-3 on the season.

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Befitting Thanksgiving eve, the crowd was in a cheery mood, and the Wings helped out as Dylan Larkin extended his point streak, Alex Nedeljkovic came through with a big glove save on a backhand attempt by Ryan O’Reilly — one of several big stops among 35 — and Tyler Bertuzzi put a big hit on Niko Mikkola.

The Blues made it 1-0 in the first period on a power play goal from Pavel Buchnevic and tied things up early in the third period when David Perron angled the puck on net from the goal line. Adam Erne then used Pius Suter as a screen to score three minutes later.

With his goal in the first period, the 19-year-old Raymond became the second teenager in franchise history to collect his first 20 career points in 21 games or fewer, joining the man who drafted him: Steve Yzerman. He did it in 17 games in 1983-84. Raymond has six points the last six games.

“I was happy to see his game,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I thought as the road trip went along he was starting to lose a little steam, so I was curious to see where he was at. I thought he came and had good energy. He’s smart, he’s hard and he’s competitive. Those are great qualities to have and that’s allowed him to have success.”

The Wings weren’t sure Raymond, the No. 4 pick in 2020, would make the team his first year in North America, but he looked at home from the first day of camp. The Swedish Hockey League, where he played last season, doesn’t have nearly as grueling a schedule as the NHL, but Raymond has been a quick study.

“You just have to be really cautious about what you do,” he said. “You have to get the right sleep, especially, and eat good, and just stay focused. Just try to keep your schedule, that’s the main part. But with a lot of games and the road trip, you really have to think about what you eat and getting to bed.”

Captain Comeback

Larkin set up Raymond’s goal, then scored his own in the second period. Eyeing an opportunity by the net, Larkin cut to the low slot and whacked the puck behind Ville Husso. Larkin is on a six-game point streak, and has three multipoint games during the stretch. Larkin had a subpar 2021 season, with just nine goals and 23 points in 44 games; it ended when he suffered a scary neck injury. Larkin’s goal Wednesday was his 10th of the season, in just his 17th game.

“He was disappointed in his year last year and he kind of refreshed this summer,” Blashill said. “Maybe the injury in some way was good – he’s such a worker and he’s got such inner drive, and maybe the injury gave him a chance to just sit back and refresh a little bit. From the very beginning of the season, I think he’s done an excellent job.”

Bertuzzi moves lines

After going winless on their last road trip, the Wings started the game with new looks on all four lines. Vladislav Namestnikov moved up to play with Larkin and Raymond, and Bertuzzi was moved onto the second line, with Suter and Fabbri. Filip Zadina was moved onto Joe Veleno’s line with Sam Gagner, and Michael Rasmussen centered Givani Smith and Erne. Veleno did not finish the game after suffering an upper-body injury.

DeKeyser in COVID protocol

Danny DeKeyser was placed in COVID-19 protocol, and Marc Staal was unavailable because of a non-COVID illness. That led to Dan Renouf making his second career appearance. Renouf, 27, rejoined the organization this summer after spending most of last season with the Colorado Avalanche. Renouf was originally signed by the Wings in March 2016, and played one game during 2016-17. DeKeyser is the second Wing to enter pandemic protocol this season; Larkin suffered a scare after a false positive Nov. 16 at Dallas.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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