Lucas Raymond stays hot as the Red Wings record a much-needed victory

((Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)
((Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images) /

There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. Jet lag, you say? No problem. Despite having little success in Sweden last week, the Detroit Red Wings burst onto the scene at home against the New Jersey Devils, scoring three first-period goals in 1:12 en route to a 4-0 victory.

Detroit controlled the play all evening long, often frustrating the Devils with their offensive cycle game and puck possession. The Red Wings did a superb job keeping the dynamic Jack Hughes and his Devils mates to the outside. Goaltender Alex Lyon wasn’t busy, making just 16 saves on the night, but made the saves when needed.

I would assume Detroit will look to Lyon again in Boston on Saturday afternoon, but with three goalies rostered, Lalonde may want to turn to Ville Husso to get him back into some game action since he didn’t make the trip to Sweden. Right now, I would stay with Lyon. As I mentioned, Detroit needs to rotate these goaltenders and stay with the hot hand; a shutout should still be considered a hot hand despite only facing 16 shots. Maybe I am too superstitious?

The Detroit Red Wings easily outplayed the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

The Red Wings dressed 11 forwards and seven defenders, primarily to manage the minutes of their defenders, with Jake Walman playing banged up. Walman went head, neck, shoulder-first into Detroit’s goal post when his skate caught a rut in Sweden early on against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Oddly enough, the Detroit Red Wings are 4-0 on the season when they’ve gone with a lineup of 11 and seven. It does allow Derek Lalonde to double-shift his top players, but it can be difficult for defenders to build continuity with each other when they are taking a shift with a different partner each time out.

The Detroit Red Wings got their first goal from Lucas Raymond, who has four goals over his past four games. It’s great to see because he has been working hard on the boards and proving he is stronger this season with his profound physical play. That while all of the attention was focused on Dylan Larkin and Alex DeBrincat (early on in the season) as the dynamic duo continued to light the lamp. Although still productive, Larkin and DeBrincat are not scoring at the same clip they had at the beginning of the season. Raymond has gotten hot and is proving capable of picking up the slack. In addition to Raymond, the Detroit Red Wings got goals from Dylan Larkin, Robby Fabbri, and Moritz Seider.

Check out this beautiful give-and-go with Robby Fabbri. Raymond gets the return feed and waits out New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek, knowing he’d be pushing hard left to right to disrupt the play. Raymond waits him out and delivers the bread top shelf with an absolutely beautiful shot.

The Detroit Red Wings now sit with a 9-6-3 record at Thanksgiving but are on the outside looking in when it comes to the postseason race. Even I feel that it’s a bit early to use the term ‘postseason race’ after controlling the third position in the Atlantic Division for quite some time and even climbing to the second position for a while. But unfortunately, Detroit has fallen to fifth thanks to a 3-5-2 skid heading into Wednesday night’s contest.

Derek Lalonde mentioned how difficult the Atlantic is and described how the organization needs to be more consistent if they hope to end their seven-year playoff drought.

"“Playing in this division, in this conference, no one is coming down to us,” Lalonde said. “That is starting to play itself out. It has to be us reaching them and we have to start to do that.“We’re right in that middle of the pack. We put ourselves there with some good play, but we’ve also put ourselves there with letting some points slip away here. So it’s a matter of just continuing to grow our game, if we can be a little more complete. I think we can all sit here and say we’re not good enough to be good some of the time, we have to be good all the time to be successful.”"

Lucas Raymond is heating up.

Raymond currently sits with eight goals and 14 points over the first 18 games of the season, and as I referred to earlier, it seems he’s doing it relatively quietly. He’s a big piece for the Detroit Red Wings now and moving forward. The 21-year-old is a pending restricted free agent and will see a significant raise in the near future. The question is, will it be a long-term deal or one of those bridge-like contracts for a bit more team-friendly term before signing the ever-so-common eight-year extension?

Not only has Raymond scored in four straight, he’s totaled five goals and eight points over his last nine games. And although it’s not a stat highlighted much anymore, Raymond is a plus player this season, currently sitting at a plus-4 after a minus-32 rookie season and a minus-17 rating last year. Raymond has always graded out well analytically, but he’s having an excellent season in this regard early on in 2023-24. His Relative Corsi For Percentage in even strength situations is at 7.1, a career-best. In his rookie season, it was 3.7%. His Corsi For Percentage (CF%) at even strength is 53.4.

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It’s a small sample size, but Raymond is maintaining a career-best 1.5 goals per 60 minutes to go with a reliable 2.7 points per 60. Also, his 18.9% shooting percentage won’t be sustainable, but right now, it is a robust 6% better than last season.