What watching games from the top has taught Detroit Red Wings’ Lucas Raymond

Detroit Free Press

Lucas Raymond took part in Friday’s practice, but his availability remains up in the air.

Two weeks have passed since a lower-body injury sidelined the Detroit Red Wings’ top-line winger. Both he and coach Derek Lalonde expressed hope, but not certainty, that he might be ready to play Saturday, when the Wings host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“It’s day-to-day right now,” Raymond said. “It’s been going good, moving in the right direction.”

He subbed onto the fourth line during practice, seemingly a sign the team doesn’t expect him back for another game or so.

“He had a good skate,” Lalonde said. “I don’t know if he’ll be ready for (Saturday), but a step in the right direction. The goal was to get him a full practice, fully involved, contact, and he did that. Hopefully, we’ll have him available.”

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The Wings would have to clear a spot on the 23-man roster to activate Raymond. Jonatan Berggren is waiver-exempt, and Jakub Vrana can still be sent back down, thanks to having cleared waivers in January. Berggren and Vrana took turns subbing onto the third line Friday.

Over the past few weeks, Lalonde has scratched Berggren, Vrana, Filip Zadina and Dominik Kubalik.

“Ultimately, it’s on me,” Lalonde said of deciding who will sit. “But we will talk as a staff, there are different things that go into it. And even with Zadina the other day, I think I told the press, I do not like sitting him out. But he was the guy not on either special teams, so it just made sense with rhythm.

“A lot goes into it. Sometimes it’s play, sometimes it’s accountability. These are tough decisions that we are happy to have right now.”

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Raymond hadn’t missed a game until the injury, playing 132 consecutive games since entering the NHL last season. He described having to be a spectator the last seven games — during which the Wings have gone 6-1 — as “nerve-wracking, to be honest. I’ve never been out before, so it’s a little different experience. It’s a lot of nerves sitting there knowing you can’t control anything. But the boys have been playing amazing, so that has made it a lot easier.”

“I saw some from up top. It’s a little different watching from up top, all of a sudden you see everything. I wish I had that vision.”

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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