Red Wings line brings plenty of size: ‘They can be real hard to play against’

Detroit News

Detroit — You could put the three of them on a basketball court, and from a size perspective, you wouldn’t be losing anything in terms of a size advantage.

Michael Rasmussen (6-foot-6) centering a line with Elmer Soderblom (6-foot-8) and Oskar Sundqvist (6-foot-3) — the three were put together again Wednesday during the Red Wings practice — is a unique venture.

Rarely has there been over 19 feet of collective human beings on a hockey line. If coach Derek Lalonde keeps it together, it could give the Wings quite an advantage in certain situations.

“Size,” said Lalonde, of what he likes about the line. “They work, they communicate well. There are times that line can possess the puck with the wind, the field position if you will, and have extended zone time. They’ve shown that. They’ve shown they can be real hard to play against.

“It’s something we’ll look at on Friday.”

That could be a hint that possibly Soderblom will be on the roster Friday, and maybe he won’t. Lalonde said again Wednesday the staff is going through evaluating, and a likely final determination as to whether Soderblom and Joe Veleno will be on the roster could be determined by Thursday evening.

But Soderblom’s size and skill, being blended with the complementary skills of Sundqvist and Rasmussen, is intriguing.

“I’m the smallest guy out there,” Sundqvist said with a bit of disbelief. Often, whether in St. Louis or with the Wings, the 6-foot-3 Sundqvist has been the biggest player on the ice.

“I’ve usually been the biggest guy (in a lineup). It’s a little switch around to be the smallest one,” Sundqvist said. “The two times I’ve been practicing with them, they’re real good players. If we play together, it’ll be a lot of fun.”

Sundqvist is impressed with Soderblom, a fellow Swede, and a rookie who has displayed shrewd puck skills for someone so big.

“Very impressed,” Sundqvist siad. “I watched him during the preseason, too, and it felt like throughout the whole preseason his confidence is growing more and more. You can see that in practice. The ways he’s holding on to the puck, and making plays. I’m very excited to see him and what he can bring. He’ll do great out there.”

Sundqvist is slowly adjusting to the speed of practice after having missed the entire exhibition season with an undisclosed injury.

Sundqvist is confident he’ll be ready to begin the season Friday, with the rest of his teammates, and is optimistic (though not certain) he’ll be able to play the next day in New Jersey.

“I feel like every day like I’m getting my lungs (conditioning) back, and that’s the most important part right now,” Sundqvist said. “Not being able to do a lot, even if it’s just a week, you lose quite a bit with lung capacity. It’s nice to be out there and get that back.”

Sundqvist wouldn’t divulge what the injury was, but is glad to be pain free for the first time in “almost three years. It got to the point where it didn’t work anymore, so we had to get that fixed and I’m glad we did.”

After being acquired at the trade deadline last season, this is the first preseason Sundqvist has gone through with the Wings — even if he was skating by himself before practice most of it.

Sundqvist has found the time getting to know his new teammates beneficial.

“It’s been good, a lot of new faces and it’s way more fun to be with them rather than skating by yourself in the morning,” Sundqvist said. “I’m getting to know them on the ice. It’s good, there’s a lot of new faces and you want to be out there and get to know them.”

Strange experience

Lalonde was in a strange position Tuesday evening watching his former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning where Lalonde had been an assistant coach, on the television opening a new season.

“I’m rooting for them in that you still have relationships, and you’re rooting for individuals you build those relationships, that trust, in those guys,” Lalonde said. “You want them to have success.”

Lalonde watched both games, the late game was Vegas at Los Angeles, as the NHL season started to roll.

“Just like everyone else, I’m a fan,” Lalonde said. “I was intrigued for the late game, too, and that kept me up too late.”

Ice chips

From the way the lines were formed Wednesday, Filip Zadina and Pius Suter were the 13th and 14th, or extra forwards. Veleno centered Adam Erne and Dominik Kubalik on the third line, with Rasmussen centering the line with Soderblom and Sundqvist. Zadina and Suter worked their way into those two lines during drills.

… Lalonde said no decision has been made as to who the starting goaltender will be Friday against Montreal, or the next night in New Jersey. Just that both Alex Nedeljkovic and Ville Husso will get a start.

“We’ve talked about it a lot this week and that’ll be something we’ll communicate with both of those guys,” Lalonde said. “Both guys will get the net one game this weekend. We still haven’t decided who is going to get the net Friday.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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