The Detroit Red Wings had back to back preseason games against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday 9/17 and Wednesday 9/18. In reality, the Grand Rapids Griffins had back to back games against the Rockford Ice Hogs. In pre season play, especially early on, guys are fighting to be the last ones sent down or released from tryouts. One guy who is desperate to reverse course on an assumed demotion is Michael Rasmussen. You can see it in his face.
On Tuesday’s tilt, he was robbed on a backhand attempt. He banged his stick on the ice and shouted. Ras had an intensity and almost desperation to get things rolling. In the third period, he was rewarded. A net front power play goal (with the help of an unfortunate defender) and you could see it all over Rasmussen’s face. He released all the fury and frustration in celebrating that goal. No smile. No crazy celly. Just a primal yell akin to a hunter finding food at the last possible moment before starvation. Smile Ras, it’s still a game.
Apparently Moritz Seider has worked hard to get a smile out of the 6’6” center, to no avail. Rasmussen is dialed in and desperate to prove that he can stick with the team. The realization that Filppula was brought in to fill out the center position and allow #27 to head to Grand Rapids has clearly cemented the competitive reality of becoming an NHL pro. Jobs aren’t given, they are taken.
I’m sure there is a balance to be had. There has to be room for guys to still have fun and enjoy this game. But, seeing a player so hungry (or more appropriately hangry) is a good sign that the message is starting to sink in. Rasmussen seems to get it and wants to buck the assumption that he’s a west side kid this season.
In reality, I still believe he’ll be in Grand Rapids. However, he can put him self at the top of the call up list. We can use a big center that can score (who can’t?) but for Rasmussen he needs to play top 6 minutes. Even if he outplays the bottom 6 forwards in Detroit that’s not enough to forego an AHL stint. That will be a tough climb.