The Athletic’s Max Bultman offers 10 observations regarding the Red Wings’ 2020-2021 campaign some 10 games into the regular season, and his question as to what happens when the Wings’ COVID-related absences return is particularly significant:
As those players do return from injuries come off the COVID list, however, some big roster decisions will need to be made, with four forwards and a defenseman coming back into the lineup.
And that will be especially interesting when it comes to Detroit’s younger players. At forward, Michael Rasmussen, Givani Smith and Taro Hirose have all made individual cases to stay: Hirose for his feel on the half wall to help the struggling power play; Smith for his energy, forechecking, and the goal he set up to Larkin Sunday; and Rasmussen for his physicality down low, which has only been helped by improved skating. Rasmussen and Smith also have two assists each in their past three games, while Hirose has two in his past four.
Can any of them hold onto a spot over Frans Nielsen or Darren Helm when the full set of forwards return? Handicapping it now, Hirose’s power-play upside may be the most enticing, because of how glaring a need that is for Detroit. But all three have arguably earned longer looks, and Smith made arguably the best statement Sunday.
Continued (paywall), including this one:
It’s been hard this season to get a feel for the temperature of the locker room without being in it, so take this one cautiously, but while it’s safe to assume the Red Wings aren’t pleased after losing their sixth straight, they didn’t seem lost or panicked after this series, either — even going into a series against the Stanley Cup champs.
“We sat around for 11 months, man,” Blashill said. “We want these challenges. We’re not taking any game for granted, and the record isn’t good enough, but we’ve got a chance to change it on Wednesday. So let’s go out and try to change it.”