The advice from Detroit Red Wings’ David Perron that has helped budding star Lucas Raymond

Detroit Free Press

One of the positives for the Detroit Red Wings as they play out their season is Lucas Raymond’s resurgence.

The second-year forward enters the final week on a four-game point streak, emerging from a quiet spell to play a better overall game. He’ll have a chance to build on that Monday when the Wings play their final home game, hosting the Dallas Stars, followed by one last road trip, at the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday and Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Raymond has six points this last stretch.

“I love his energy,” veteran forward David Perron said. “I love the way he is invested in the game. He is trying to play the right way, and he’s making plays.

“I sit beside him in the room and I always tell him, the games that he gets feisty a little bit are the games that he plays the best, usually. It’s tough to do that every single night, I understand. But it’s kind of always naturally — there’s a scrum, next thing you know, he’s got a good game.”

Raymond picked up his fifth assist in the last four games when he helped set up the Wings’ goal in Sunday’s 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Little Caesars Arena. Pius Suter scored midway through the second period, with Andrew Copp also assisting.

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That line has been together since late March, when coach Derek Lalonde flipped Perron to Raymond’s usual spot next to Dylan Larkin, and put Raymond with Copp.

“We’ve had a little spark out of our top six just switching those guys around,” Lalonde said. “So that line has a little bit of chemistry. And our power play has clicked.

“Lucas has been playing well, which is good. You want young guys to keep going. These are very important minutes and games for him in his development.”

Six of the Wings’ last seven games have been against opponents with playoff positioning on the line; that will continue against the Stars and Hurricanes.

With 17 goals and 28 assists in 71 games, Raymond’s 0.63 points-per-game average is a tad below last season’s 0.70 average, when he had 23 goals and 34 assists in 82 games as a rookie. (Raymond missed two weeks with a lower-body injury after an accidental collision with Ben Chiarot during a practice in mid-February.) But sagging in the second year is common enough there’s a term for it — sophomore slump — and Raymond only just turned 21 on March 28.

“There’s the physical aspect,” Perron said. “I think it’s getting to know the league, playing 82 games, the travel, understanding what it takes to be consistent each and every night. That’s still something throughout your career you have to keep pushing for, for that elite level, and he’s going to keep doing that.”

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Raymond, drafted at No. 4 in 2020, is tabbed as a big part of the rebuild. Another offseason in the gym will help him add muscle to his 5-foot-11, 176-pound frame. Opponents have keyed in on him this season, now that he is a known quantity, and part of that playbook has been to get in his face.

Raymond did not score a goal between March 11 to April 2 (he had six assists during the stretch) and the Wings need more out of a player who averages nearly 18 minutes per game, with three of those minutes coming on man advantages. While the Wings went scoreless on three power plays against the Penguins, their power play had converted in five of the previous six games. Raymond is on the same unit as Perron, Larkin, Alex Chiasson and Moritz Seider.

“He’s a guy I really enjoy getting to know,” Perron said of Raymond. “Playing with him and Mo and Larks, especially those three, on the power play, they have a lot of talent.”

Raymond just showed his feistiness with a three-point outing the previous game (he also had a shootout goal, which does not count as an individual statistic), which ended up being the night the Wings were eliminated from playoff contention for a seventh straight year. But Raymond is part of the plan to get back there: A high-end draft pick who is developing into a really good player.

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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