Sophomore jinx? Red Wings’ Raymond dealing with prolonged offensive slump late in season

Detroit News

This hasn’t happened often in Lucas Raymond’s career, be it as a professional or when he was still a junior player in Sweden.

Rarely has Raymond ever gone through this kind of stretch where goals, or points, have been so difficult to come by.

Not getting a goal during Friday’s 6-2 loss in Winnipeg pushed Raymond’s current streak to 11 games without a goal. Raymond has one goal in his last 22 games played, a period that was interrupted by eight games being missed for a lower-body injury.

With only six assists in his last 19 games, simply getting on the scoresheet has been difficult for Raymond.

For a player that just turned 21 Tuesday, and in just his second NHL season, coach Derek Lalonde feels it’s important to remember how young, and relatively inexperienced Raymond is.

“I forget how young he is at times and how much we ask of him,” said Lalonde, noting Raymond is often on the Wings’ top line and faces many of the NHL’s best players. “He’s been thrown into this league in a top-six role. He faces the other team’s top line and top defensive pair every night.

“He’s going to be a really good player going forward because of it.”

Lalonde has put Raymond with Pius Suter and Andrew Copp recently, hoping to find a spark.

Raymond had 23 goals and 34 assists for 57 points last season as a rookie, and a hot late October to early November this season had many people expecting even bigger offensive numbers.

But Raymond has been particularly streaky this season and missing the two weeks in February really made things difficult, as Raymond has struggled to find any groove since.

“I’d like to see more finish because he has been around those (offensive) chances,” Lalonde said. “I still think he’s learning how to compete every day. You can see when his compete is at a very high level he’s a great player. All the tools are there.

“You’ve seen at times the tools, the compete. I still think he’s learning that. We’re trying to play the right way, holding everyone accountable and not cheating, being on the right side of the puck. He’s in the middle of the process and it’s going good.”

Kasper watch

The biggest story around the Wings in most fans’ eyes these days, heading into the final two week of the schedule, is when will forward Marco Kasper play?

The Wings’ 2022 first-round draft pick was recalled Thursday and took part in the pre-game skate in Winnipeg.

The Wings will hold a morning skate Sunday in Toronto, but it’s unlikely Kasper would play without at least one full-scale practice. All of which makes Tuesday’s game in Montreal a possibility to make Kasper’s NHL debut.

Lalonde feels Kasper will be further ahead next training camp after getting this late-season NHL exposure.

“I just like the fact that he’s around in the process,” Lalonde told detroitredwings.com. “He’s been in all our meetings, was able to get a little skate in today and take warm-ups. Not quite available for us yet. He’s still dealing with a little upper-body situation he had from his time in the playoffs over in Europe.

“He’s a very laid-back kid.”

Red Wings at Maple Leafs

▶ Faceoff: 7 p.m. Sunday, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto.

▶ TV/radio: BSD/97.1

▶ Outlook: The Maple Leafs (44-20-10) are aiming to secure home-ice advantage in the first-round of the playoffs against Tampa Bay. … The Leafs have won two of three games against the Wings this season. … RW Mitch Marner (67 assists. 95 points) is having a career-best season.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan

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