How Michael Rasmussen saved the Detroit Red Wings from a Derek Lalonde tongue-lashing

Detroit Free Press

Derek Lalonde didn’t want to waste throwing a fit, and as it turned out, he ended up singing Michael Rasmussen’s praises.

The Detroit Red Wings head off on a quick little trip before the All-Star break feeling good about themselves after celebrating a 3-2 overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena. It was Andrew Copp who scored the last goal but Michael Rasmussen who got the accolades for setting it up, and scoring in regulation.

“He won a battle, took it right to a cage,” Copp said. “I was off the side and kind of knew it would find its way over there and pulled it out and put it into the empty net. Wasn’t too tough. He did all the work.”

WHAT’S UP, POP!Red Wings’ coming week brings old faces, possibly old teammates

The Wings have two more days of work — Thursday at Montreal and Friday at the New York Islanders — before pausing for a week-long All-Star break.

Drafted at No. 9 in 2017, Rasmussen has mostly figured in the organization’s plans as a center, but it’s at wing that he has had success this season.

“I want to be careful because we’re still raw on his development,” Lalonde said. “But the wing frees up what he is. He hunts pucks, he wins battles, he simplifies his game. You know a winger is good when every center starts to come hinting that they would like to play with him.

“He’s a ‘will kid.’ He’s a work-ethic first and he’s getting rewarded.”

Rasmussen, 23, scored his eighth goal of the season when he spun around in the slot and fired a shot at James Reimer at 16:29 of the second period, putting the Wings up 2-1. But an Adam Erne turnover led to Logan Couture’s goal with six seconds to go in the period, and that left Lalonde fuming.

“It could have been a yelling screaming type of moment,” Lalonde said. “I’ve only had one or two of those this year. They’ve all worked, so I didn’t want to waste one. But I was like, guys, that hasn’t been us. 

“You go in there and you feel bad, because the Erne turnover was so egregious. We had four or five similar turnovers. We didn’t manage the puck. There comes a point where you guys have to figure it out, and obviously their effort in the third was a very good sign of them trying to figure it out and willing their way to a win.”

Woof! How a puppy has helped Detroit Red Wings’ Filip Zadina as he nears comeback

In overtime, Copp lost a faceoff to Couture, but Rasmussen pounced on the loose puck and took it to the net to earn two points for the Wings and 22 points for him on the season.

“As long as I’m competing and working and helping the team the best I can, that gives me my confidence,” Rasmussen said. “I’ve learned to earn my confidence with hard work and just playing the right way and trying to be a good teammate.”

It is to Rasmussen’s credit that he has become something of go-to guy for Lalonde, who has tried various players — Tyler Bertuzzi, Dominik Kubalik — as a fit on Dylan Larkin-Lucas Raymond line, with minimal results. But Rasmussen ‘s commitment to forechecking and tracking pucks has gotten him repeated looks there. It’s where he began Tuesday’s game, before being put back with Copp and David Perron.

“I put him with Larks and Raymond because every line he’s been with, he drives,” Lalonde said. “Ended up back with DP and Copp because they have a little chemistry. They grind zone time. It was more of getting that line back together.

“I rarely single out a guy for an effort, especially the way we’re built, it feels like every time we win it is a complete team effort. But Ras tonight, and he was nicked up, he wasn’t 100%. But he forechecked, he finished, even the overtime goal, he jumps a San Jose faceoff win and ends up getting three jams out of it before it ends up on Copp’s stick for the open-netter. What an effort by him. Good for him.”

Contact Helene St. James at 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.

Articles You May Like

Why Red Wings’ Quiet Offseason Was the Right Call Long Term
NHL Rumors: Oilers, Red Wings, Flyers
Red Wings Should Still Pursue John Gibson Trade
Red Wings: 5 Potential Alternate Captains
9 NHL Teams That Missed in Free Agency

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *