It’s still uncertain when Lucas Raymond will be ready to play for the Detroit Red Wings. He’s a definite maybe for Saturday’s home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said Raymond had a good practice Friday.
“I don’t know if he’ll be ready for tomorrow but a step in the right direction,” Lalonde said. “The goal today was to have a full practice, be fully involved, contact, and he did that. I’ll check with our medical staff; hopefully we’ll have him for tomorrow.”
Raymond said after practice that he felt comfortable. But he still termed his undisclosed injury as “day-to-day.”
“Just have to wait to see how things progress,” Raymond said.
Raymond has missed seven games since suffering a lower body injury during a collision with 232-pound teammate Ben Chiarot during a practice. At the time of the injury, Raymond was the team’s second-leading scorer with 15 goals. The Red Wings have almost become a different team in his absence. They went 4-1 on a road trip and won six of the seven games he’s missed.
Sidelined 15 Days
Players have been stepping up with Raymond gone. In those games, the Red Wings averaged 4.28 goals per game. Their season average is 3.11 goals per season. That ranks 17th out of 32 NHL teams.
It’s been 15 days since Raymond played an NHL game. Rust would be anticipated. The Red Wings haven’t said who will be sent to Grand Rapids when Raymond is declared ready to play. Jakub Vrana was brought up when he was injured, but that doesn’t mean GM Steve Yzerman has to send him down.
But Raymond and leading scorer Dylan Larkin have strong chemistry. It’s not like Lalonde doesn’t want to break up a winning lineup. Detroit now has enough depth now that players are being scratched when they are playing well. That has happened to Filip Zadina and Jonatan Berggren this week.
“Lucas will play when healthy,” Lalonde said. “We’ve been like this for 2-3 weeks now and credit to some of the guys – Zadina sits out, right back in; we have all intentions of getting Berggren back in. Kubalik has sat out on the back end. Vrana has watched 3-4 games and gotten in the lineup. You’re playing well, obviously there’s some rhythm with some of the lines but we’ve also mixed up some lines throughout this stretch, too. It’s part of it. As a staff, just consistent with the message. There’s times we will sit someone out and the message is clear as to why – for accountability. And there’s times that it’s ‘You’re the odd-man out tonight.’