Of all the shifts that Michael Rasmussen has had in his Red Wings career, this was one that the brass who drafted him envisioned. The towering Rasmussen leading the play, getting into position, and scoring a big goal.
Every box was checked on this shift. Here’s how it broke down:
Breaking Down what Led to the Rasmussen Goal
15:18 – 15:11 – Rasmussen’s shift starts to Joe Veleno‘s left. He’d just entered the ice after a full change when Veleno scored from the odd angle, making it 7-5. Veleno wins the faceoff and the Red Wings control the puck, passing it through the neutral zone to set up.
15:10 – 15:07 – The puck is dumped in on the right side of the ice by Moritz Seider and Rasmussen works through one Maple Leaf along the boards and enters the zone on the opposite side. He chases after Timothy Liljegren who’s just over the goal line to the right of new netminder Petr Mrazek. Veleno chases Liljegren and gets a piece of his attempt to pass off the end boards and out of danger. He peels off and is to Mrazek’s right now.
15:06 -15:02 – Rasmussen chases as the puck exits the zone, disrupting the pass just as the Leafs are about to gain some momentum in the neutral zone. The puck hops over a couple sticks, and bounces toward center ice, dying midway between the red line and the Leafs’ blue line. He’s already curled over the red line and makes a beeline to the puck.
15:01 – 14:48 – Rasmussen scoops up the puck and enters the zone, getting tied up by two Leafs on the side boards. The puck squirts out and heads toward Mrazek’s right, where Rasmussen again tracks it down, snags it, and centers it to Vladislav Namestnikov, who gets a bit of it but it goes wide.
14:47 – 14:44 – Rasmussen circles the net and before screening Mrazek, lifts his stick up as Nick Leddy holds the puck at the blue line. Not one Maple Leaf player is concerned about Rasmussen, all focused on the wide open Leddy with the puck while staying in the slot. Leddy instead passes off to Veleno to his left who skates back from out of the circle toward the blue line.
14:43 -14:42– Veleno skates to his left toward the middle of the blue line while Seider criss-crosses below, just a hair outside the zone. Veleno drops the puck between his legs to Seider who collects it just above the blue line. Seider skates to his left, puts on the brakes, drawing off the Leafs player in front of him. At this point, Rasmussen is completely alone in front of the net. Seider then shift his body right and readies for a shot.
14:41 – 14:38 – Seider lifts his head and sees a wide open Michael Rasmussen parked in front of the net. He fires the shot, which Rasmussen redirects past Mrazek, who never has a chance on the play.
Rasmussen was Everywhere on the Shift
It was perhaps one of the young forward’s finest shifts of the season, seeing him having a hand in nearly every part of the scoring play. Dogged often this year for being too light on his skates, the 6’6 forward outmuscled his competition and used his long stride and stick work to disrupt Toronto from getting any clean passes or momentum. During Rasmussen’s shift, Toronto never advanced the puck beyond the red line.
His skating was also strong–twice changing direction with a quick turn to push the play the other way. Setting up was almost too easy for Rasmussen as the Leafs left him unchecked which led to a simple goal. Credit Leddy, Veleno, and Seider for having the wherewithal to only shoot when the right opportunity presented itself. Namestnikov also drew Leaf players around him, serving as a decoy on the scoring play.
It’s exactly what the Red WIngs want from Rasmussen, and though it always won’t come as easily, it’s certainly something they hope to see even more of as his career in Detroit continues.