GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Detroit Red Wings got a bit healthier Thursday, as Michael Rasmussen suited up for the first time since sustaining a groin injury Jan. 4. He had a goal and an assist, seven shots and led the team in 5-on-5 shot attempts percentage (59.81) in a 4-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights at Little Caesars Arena.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 8, 2019
Wednesday night in Grand Rapids, he finished a three-game conditioning stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He scored twice — one of which was an empty-netter — in his first game with the Griffins, a 5-3 win against the Texas Stars, but was held pointless in a 2-0 loss to the San Antonio Rampage and a 2-1 win against the Manitoba Moose on Wednesday.
“It’s been tough, you never want to be out, never want to be in that spot not playing,” Rasmussen told Wings Nation on Wednesday. “It’s been tough on me. I try to stay positive and work hard to get back.”
On Wednesday, Rasmussen played wing on the second line with Wade Megan and Matthew Ford, two AHL veterans. The 19-year-old was solid, creating chances for himself and his teammates and using that big frame to shield pucks away from defenders. He had a couple of cross-crease passes intercepted and nearly scored on a partial breakaway after attempting a spin-o-rama. He also spent time on a line with Filip Zadina during the road trip in Texas.
Griffins coach Ben Simon said he was impressed with Rasmussen’s demeanor.
“He’s a big kid, he had a great attitude when he was down here,” Simon said. “It’s how you approach it down here. I thought he came down and embraced it and had a great mentality. In just the short period of time he was here, you can see he’s got a tremendous work ethic.
“He takes his career very seriously, and he’s a very self-driven human being. It’s not going to surprise me when he turns into a longtime Red Wing.”
Zadina said he enjoyed playing with Rasmussen again, as the two played together in Traverse City during training camp.
“Everyone knows he’s a huge player, he’s the regular net-front guy,” Zadina said. “Obviously, he’s pretty skilled. It’s always been a pleasure to play with him. Hopefully, I’ll see him next year.”
Rasmussen spoke highly of Zadina’s game, as well.
“He’s definitely taken strides in his game, and he’s looking like a real pro,” Rasmussen said.
While Rasmussen made his return to the Red Wings, another prospect is making a case for a return to the big club. Filip Hronek scored two power-play goals in 54 seconds for the Griffins on Wednesday, leading them to a come-from-behind win with less than a minute to go in the third period.
— Grand Rapids Griffins (@griffinshockey) February 7, 2019
The 21-year-old has seven goals and 14 assists in 25 games for the Griffins and three goals and seven assists in 23 games for the Red Wings.
Hronek’s first goal came on a 6-on-3, as the Moose had two men in the penalty box and the Griffins pulled their goalie for the extra skater.
“I was surprised at how much room they give me,” Hronek said. “We were playing 6-on-3, so I was waiting for a one-timer.”
The second goal came on the second power play, a 5-on-4 and another one-timer, to put the Griffins up 2-1 with 25 seconds left.
Simon said Hronek played well offensively and defensively.
“I think you take away his two goals, that was probably his most complete game since he’s been down here,” Simon said. “I thought he defended well, I thought he skated well, he was making good decisions with the puck. The fact he had two goals at the end is obviously a bonus and huge for his confidence. I’m not even looking at those goals; he played a solid 200-foot game.”
Something the Red Wings surely could use more of.