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Red Wings Seider, Raymond Feeling Bite of Sophomore Jinx?

The second year can be rough on NHL rookie sensations

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Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings
Red Wings Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider is still looking for his first point of the season.

Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin remembers when the sophomore jinx took a bit out of him. It most certainly left a mark.

From the outset of training camp this fall, Larkin sought to make his personal experience a point of emphasis with both Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond. Larkin’s hope was to make his mark with Detroit’s sensational second-year players in order to prevent the dreaded sophomore jinx from leaving its mark on them.

“I struggled my second year,” Larkin was recalling. As a sophomore NHLer, Larkin’s goal output dipped from 23 to 17. His points total slipped to 32 from 45. Larkin’s ice per game was cut from 16:33 to 16:09. He slid from a +11 as a rookie to -28 as a second-year player.

“I played on the fourth line for the majority of that year and kind of lost my spot to some veteran players,” Larkin remembered. “Those guys don’t want that to happen.”

It is, as a fellow who used to coach the Red Wings was fond of saying, a small sample size. Yet the early returns are showing that the numbers aren’t adding up as easily so far for Raymond and Seider.

Like Larkin a 23-goal scorer as a rookie, Raymond has yet to dent the twine this season. En route to the Calder Trophy Seider was compiling 50 points last season, the most by a Red Wings rookie defender since Nicklas Lidstrom was arriving on the scene in 1991-92. Through three games, Seider hasn’t been able to put up a crooked number in the goals or assists column.

Should Red Wings Be Worried?

First of all, point-producing isn’t the only measurement of a player’s worth. Watching Detroit’s first three games, it would take a cynic to suggest that Seider and Raymond aren’t playing well for the Red Wings.

The message from new Detroit coach Derek Lalonde to last season’s rookie sensations is to stay true to who they are,both as people and as players.

“Control the things you can control,” Lalonde said. “Limit the moments.”

Seider and Raymond are no longer unknown quantities in the league. They’ve established benchmarks, set precendents. There are expectations being placed upon them from within and from those who orbit around the team. Tuning out all that noise and working on bettering themselves can prove challenging to any young player, let alone those who hit the ground running and making themselve vital components of a team.

“They’re still growing,” Lalonde said. “You see it all the time. These players who have immediate success in this league. It’s very hard to have success in this league. And then they go through wanting more out of their games and they maybe do things that they weren’t doing in the previous years.

“It’s a tough balance. There’s still growth, they’re still developing.”

Lalonde recognizes that if the team is to take further forward strides, Seider and Raymond must be part and parcel of that process. At the same time, it’s wise to step back and also recognize that both young men are barely into their 20s.

“It’s exciting,” Lalonde said. “Both these players want to be good players. They want to work at it.

“From Day 1 I’ve loved Lucas’ attitude, his approach to camp. Mo’s the same way. I understand the excitement with both of the those players, but they’re both still growing and have a long ways to go.”

Taking The Next Step

The fact of life in pro sports is that it is a relentless lifestyle. Forward progress must be continual. Stay in one place and others will be striding past, taking away your ice time and ultimately, your spot on the team.

The Red Wings are confident that as the team grows to be better, Seider and Raymond will be two of the key cogs making it happen.

“They’re good young players,” Detroit GM Steve Yzerman said. “They would both be the first to say ‘I’ve got work to do. We need to get better.’ But I think they have tremendous potential.

“Both are really good young men and I think they’re both really driven. I expect them to continue to get better.”

Chicago Is Raymond’s Kind Of Town

The Red Wings are at the United Center tonight to face the Blackhawks. That might be the best news that Raymond could hear. Throughout his young career, Chicago has proven to be his kind of town.

He picked up three points in a preseason game there earlier this month. Last October 24, Raymond first made noise as an NHLer when he was posting his first NHL hat-trick and adding an assist in a 6-3 win over the Blackhawks.

Larkin, for one, feels certain that Raymond and Seider will handle the trials and tribulations of their sophomore campaign much smoother than he did.

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“I think they’re more talented and skilled than I was at that age,” Larkin said. “They’re big parts of this team. I kind of talked to them at the end of last year to come in prepared, especially Lucas, to come in and really solidify that not even is he a top player on our team, he’s taking a step to be a top player in this league.”

In their times of need, there’s a support system in place that will help Detroit’s young stars overcome any obstacles.

I would even add because they’re the players they are, they will be naturally looked upon in a leadership role,” Lalonde said. “I don’t foresee them wearing a letter or being asked to run a room, but when you start turning into a really good player, people look up to you. That’s just the reality of it. That’s part of that development.

“There’s a lot that goes into it and it’s hard. That’s why it takes time, that’s why we’ll work with them, to keep them headed in the right direction.”

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