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Red Wings Rasmussen is Who he is . . . And That’s Not a Bad Thing

Rasmussen has nine goals for Detroit this season



Michael Rasmussen, Detroit Red Wings
What Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen brings to the table is working for the team.

When considering the work of Detroit Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen, a variation on a phrase once coined by Matt Millen when he was in charge of the Detroit Lions comes to mind.

Millen was fond of saying it is what it is.

In the case of Rasmussen, he is who he is. And maybe the time has come to accept that what he is isn’t all that bad.

In fact, it’s proving to be quite helpful toward what the Red Wings are seeking to accomplish.

During Detroit’s 3-0 West Coast swing Rasmussen netted the game winner on Sunday at Anaheim. His empty-net tally clinched a 5-3 win by the Red Wings at San Jose.

Rasmussen’s nine goals tie him for sixth on the club. His shooting percentage of 15.8% is fifth-best among the Red Wings. At his current pace, Rasmussen would finish with 19 goals. That would be a career best for him.

Goals certainly don’t completely tell the story as far as Rasmussen is concerned. Not that he doesn’t enjoy getting them, mind you.

“There’s more to the game, obviously but ultimately, more goals than less wins the game,” Rasmussen said. “To chip in that way helps everyone.”

Underlying Numbers Tell Story Of Rasmussen

Those underlying numbers that Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde is so fond of discussing certainly play a pivotal role is telling what Rasmussen is all about.

He’s won 51.6% of his offensive zone faceoffs, which is fifth on the team. Rasmussen is second among Detroit forwards with 41 hits. He’s leading all forwards with 44 blocked shots. There isn’t a player on the current roster who commits fewer giveaways per 60 minutes than the 0.49 of Rasmussen. He’s also heading the Red Wings with a plus-7 rating.

“Consistency, hard to play against,” Lalonde said, listing the qualities that Rasmussen brings to the ice. “When he’s at his best loves to pitch in on offense. His physicality. Whoever he’s with, he seems to drive them because he’s able to give them looks.

“He’ll retrieve pucks on forechecks and plays a predictable, simple game. He’s easy to play off.”

A notoriously slow starter, seven of Rasmussen’s nine goals have been scored since Dec. 5.

“I try to stick with my game,” Rasmussen said. “Try to get to the net, try to take the puck to the net, be good on the forecheck, help my teammates get the puck there. Stick to my game the best that I can.”

Perhaps one the best qualities Rasmussen delivers is his sameness. Whether he’s putting up numbers or flying below the radar, he finds a method to contribute on game night, often in areas that don’t show up on the scoresheet.

“His feet, his legs, having his legs in there gets some extra touches, creates off the forecheck,” Lalonde said. “A very valuable player for us. It’s always a bonus when he’s able to contribute offensively.”

Too Much Expected Of Rasmussen

Rasmussen is perhaps cursed by two factors that lead people to believe he should be delivering more with his game. A 6-foot-6, he stands out in the crowd. Some Red Wings fans want him to be a beast, a menacing presence.

Then there’s the fact he was selected ninth overall in the 2017 NHL entry draft. When you’re a top-10 selection in your draft year, people anticipate the spectacular. However, spectacular is not part of Rasmussen’s hockey DNA.

Solid? Reliable? Dependable? Trustworthy? Yes, you can check off all of those qualities on Rasmussen’s hockey resume. Still, some want more.

The fact of the matter is he’s not going to be a regular player among Detroit’s top-six forwards. And he isn’t going to be a net-front presence for the team’s power play.

“I think Ras been really good within his role,” Lalonde said. “We’ve asked him to kill (penalties). We ask him to check at times. When you start adding on to some of these players it takes away from what they’re really good at.”

What Rasmussen does bring is steady play as a bottom-six forward, diligent penalty kill work – he’s third among Detroit forwards with 2:01 of shorthanded ice time per game – and very quietly, he’s one tally away from double-digits in the goal column for the third straight season.

It might not be exciting, highlight-reel worthy play, but no one can debate that what Rasmussen brings to the Red Wings isn’t a valuable contribution.