The news on the Michael Rasmussen injured kneecap couldn’t be much worse for the Detroit Red Wings’ playoff hopes.
“Out indefinitely,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “No time frame, but probably looks like a significant time frame for his return…We’ll know more probably in the next couple of days.”
Rasmussen was injured blocking Zach Bogosian’s shot Saturday during a 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Detroit Red Wings don’t yet know if he will need surgery. They also aren’t yet sure if he’s done for the season.
“But we will not see him anytime soon,” Lalonde said.
Rasmussen has continued to develop under Lalonde’s coaching regime. He is one of the team’s most valuable performers because he plays among the top six forwards, offers a physical game and is a strong penalty killer. To lose him just when the Red Wings have played themselves into playoff contention is a devastating blow.
Strong on PK
“Huge,” Lalonde conceded, “obviously the way he was playing…The pride and the approach him and Copp have on the penalty kill. We were in a situation where we were only using four killers. They were killing almost two-thirds of every kill we had.”
Since Jan. 17, the Red Wings are 34-for-38 (89.5%) on the penalty kill. That’s been a major factor in the fact they have won seven of their last nine games. The 6-foot-6 Rasmussen was a big part of that success.
Replacing him is not a simple assignment.
“With that said, our forward depth has been tested all year long and it has passed,” Lalonde said. “This will be one more situation. Maybe good timing hopefully for (Lucas) Raymond. He had a really good skate today. We’ll see and talk to our medical staff to see how he responds from it. But I’d be surprised if he’s not available for tomorrow.”
Raymond has missed eight games because of a lower body injury. With Rasmussen heading to the injured list, the Red Wings will not have to move anyone off their roster to make room for him. That presumably means Jakub Vrana will be staying with the team, although no one has said that officially.
The question with Raymond coming back is where his conditioning is at? When you have a lower body injury, you can’t skate.
“We’ll see,” Lalonde said. “That’s obviously the concern with being out this long with a lower body is that conditioning. One way to do it is you can replicate it like we did today in practice. We’ll play it as something to monitor if he’s available to us tomorrow. Obviously we want him in significant roles – top six, on our power play. We’ll get a feel on where his conditioning is at.”
The Red Wings are going to Ottawa for two games against Senators because they are making up the Dec. 23 game that was postponed because of a winter storm. As of this morning, the Red Wings are one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Rasmussen is the fifth Red Wing to miss time because he was injured blocking a shot.
“I think that’s what winning looks like,” Lalonde said. “I think all teams go through that. If you want to win, you’ve got to sacrifice yourself at times. I’d probably put this one . . . obviously he’s got to be one of our leading shot blockers on the year. He’s very willing. But this one would probably be very similar to the Bertuzzi one. Just a little unfortunate in that he’s square to the puck, he’s facing it with all of his equipment and it actually hits equipment. It’s one of those unfortunate situations.”