Why Detroit Red Wings are happy to see Oskar Sundqvist shine

Detroit Free Press

Three games in and they are gaining a reputation as the Detroit Red Wings‘ identity line.

Oskar Sundqvist, Michael Rasmussen and Elmer Söderblom are easily identifiable because they’re all well over 6 feet. They use that size to create energy, and there’s more to them than that. In the first game of the season, it was Söderblom, a rookie, who scored. In the third game, Monday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings, it was Sundqvist who scored with 40.9 seconds on the clock in regulation.

Nobody was happier to talk about Sundqvist after the game at Little Caesars Arena than David Perron, who knows Sundqvist from their days with the Blues.

“I’m his biggest fan,” Perron said. “We lived on the same street in St. Louis. He’s just a guy that gets it done in all aspects of the game. Any time I can talk positive of him, I’m always going to do that. He’s a great guy off the ice, too. Gets everyone laughing, gets the boys nice and loose and then the moment he steps on the ice, he goes to work.

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“You don’t know if one day he’s going to walk or not, the way he’s walking off the ice, but then he’s out there skating the hardest. It’s good to see him get those opportunities and scoring.”

Sundqvist, acquired last season in the Nick Leddy trade, missed all preseason because of an undisclosed injury. He was able to practice in the days leading up to the opener, and, with the Wings have four practices, that was just enough time to gel with Söderblom and Rasmussen. It’s Sundqvist’s joke that he’s the smallest guy on the Sky Line at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, compared to Söderblom (6-8, 246) and Rasmussen (6-6, 211), but Perron joked that needs to be re-assessed, not in height but in weight.

“Well, we’re going to have to put them on a scale, and we’ll see,” Perron said, laughing.

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“Elmer has done a great job, too, getting in on the forecheck, big body. Ras, he just plays his game every single night. This is kind of an identity line for us right now. They really do everything right, the way we want to do it.”

Sundqvist was at the net when he scored, with the Wings having pulled Ville Husso for the extra attacker. Sundqvist used his big body to stuff the puck while fending off defenders.

“He was net front and had nice poise,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “Big time finish for us.

Lalonde pointed to Sundqvist’s value in the locker room, too.

“Even not having him in camp, we have a quiet group,” he said. “We have some naturally reserved-type personalities. The second he came into our room, it was a huge spark. With a lot of new faces, young faces, having that big personality is very valuable.”

Lalonde had the Sky Line out to start the game. In the first two games, they were key to setting an early tone.

“We probably didn’t get them the minutes we’d hoped, but they do things right,” Lalonde said. “They get above, they’re hard to play against. They give us so momentum when they can gain some zone time. That line has been a good sign for us.”

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 latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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