‘There’s no panic’: Red Wings not concerned despite slow start from Raymond

Detroit News

Detroit – Nobody is pulling any alarms yet, and it’s hardly a crisis after only six games.

But forward Lucas Raymond was a leading contender for the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) last season and there was every reason to suspect Raymond would follow with an even better season this time around.

It very well could still happen. But Raymond will have a little catching up to do, after having put up two points (both assists) through the first six games.

The inability to get in the goal-scoring column, along with the possibly beginning to press because of that, has gotten Raymond out of whack.

“He’s so competitive, and now he’s channeling it incorrectly and he’s pressing,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “It’s typical with most players, let alone young players. It’s not going in for him offensively, and he believes he can help the team with offense, and now it’s looping and cheating (offensively) and not taking care of the wall and now he’s stuck in his defensive zone instead of doing things he can do in the offensive zone.

“I’m not concerned at all. It’s typical of a young player pressing a little bit. Now, it’s our job to (help him) do it the right way.”

Lalonde turned the blender on for practice Wednesday and switched some forwards around. Raymond, incidentally, was dropped to the second line with Andrew Copp centering Raymond and Joe Veleno.

Raymond played all 82 games as a rookie, with 23 goals and 34 assists (57 points). But Raymond struggled defensively as the season progressed, and wound up with a minus-32 plus-minus rating.

The fact Raymond is playing among the top-six forwards for the Wings as a 20-year-old, and is looked upon to create offense, is likely contributing to the pressure he’s feeling.

Raymond might be feeling he has to contribute goals to help the Wings win games and “make us a good team, and that’s understandable and there might be some truth to it. But it’s our job to reel him in and look at the big picture and manage their (young players on the roster) game, and it’s been the same forever: if you do the right things, the thing they’re trying to press or poach for, they will happen for them.”

Raymond’s linemate since day one last season, captain Dylan Larkin, isn’t pushing any panic buttons regarding Raymond’s slump.

“He’s going to play a lot of hockey, he’s going to go through a lot of ups and downs, and there’s no panic,” Larkin said. “It starts with, if things aren’t going well and pucks aren’t going into the net, you have to work and go out and there win battles. That’s what I say to him, because that’s what I think about when things aren’t going well for myself. Think about the simplest things that gets you going and go as hard as you can at that.

“He’s a better, more talented player than I was in his position, at that age, and much more mature. He’s going to find his stride and we need that for our team to get going.”

Larkin did go through a difficult second season, compared to his rookie season, seeing his point total fall from 45 to 32, and plus-minus go from plus-11 to minus-28, and go from a top-six to bottom-six spot in the lineup.

There can be a learning curve, from year one to two.

“My year two, I came in and went to the World Cup and came into training camp and felt good about myself, and wasn’t on the first power play, wasn’t playing with Henrik (Zetterberg) anymore, playing with Luke Glendening, and no offense to Glennie, and you have to figure it out,” Larkin said. “You have to work. You come into your first year and you’re so excited and you’re going as hard as you can every night and you have to find that again and it’s hard to do. That’s my experience, that’s what I went through.”

Red Wings at Bruins

▶ Faceoff: 7 p.m. Thursday, TD Garden, Boston.

▶ TV/radio: BSD/97.1 FM

▶ Outlook: The Bruins (6-1-0) have surged to the top of the Atlantic Division despite not having LW Brad Marchand and D Charlie McAvoy because of injuries from the start of the season….The Wings might be without RW Oskar Sundqvist (undisclosed) who didn’t practice Wednesday and is day-to-day…RW David Pastrnak (five goals, seven assists) is off a red-hot start for Boston.


Twitter: @tkulfan

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