Michael Rasmussen out; two players expected to step up for the Red Wings

A next-man-up mentality is needed for the Red Wings, as Michael Rasmussen will be sidelined for a while.
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The injury bug has yet again crawled up and bit the Detroit Red Wings. This time, it's 6-foot-6 forward Michael Rasmussen, who is expected to be sidelined for at least a couple of games. Rasmussen was forced to leave Monday's game in Tampa Bay in the third period after falling awkwardly near the benches just inside the Red Wings blue line as he attempted to clear the puck from the defensive zone.

It wasn't just that he fell awkwardly; he fell really hard on his backside, meaning he didn't have time to brace himself for impact, and he was unable to return. The Detroit Red Wings have already ruled him out for Friday's home game against the New York Rangers, and head coach Derek Lalonde mentioned on Wednesday that he's unlikely to be available this coming Sunday when the Red Wings square off with the Buffalo Sabres in Detroit.

Rasmussen, 24, has been enjoying a career year, scoring 13 goals and totaling 33 points over 75 games. He's maintained a plus-8 rating while averaging over 15 minutes a night, primarily in a checking role. He's skated to a 43.8 Corsi For Percentage and a Relative Corsi For Percentage of -2.6 in even-strength situations.

Earlier this year, Rasmussen signed a four-year extension with the Red Wings that averages $3.2 million annually. His 1.7 points per 60 minutes of play this season has slightly dipped from the 2.1 he totaled last season, but he's become a much more reliable 200-foot player this season. He will never be the top-six scoring forward I hoped he could be when the Red Wings drafted him No. 9 overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Level Draft, but he's coming into his own as a complete player who can excel as a third-line, depth player. He also brings some versatility, knowing he can play as a center or winger.

It's a next man up mentality for the Detroit Red Wings.

The Detroit Red Wings will lean on Joe Veleno to replace Rasmussen on Detroit's third line. Veleno will start Friday's game playing alongside Andrew Copp and Christian Fischer. On Monday, Veleno found himself in the coaching staff's dog house, playing only a couple of shifts in the first period and one shift in the second period during the Red Wings victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Veleno's ice time increased during the third period after Rasmussen was forced to leave with the injury, but he totaled under five minutes of ice time for the game, taking just six shifts. Veleno has gone pointless over his last 15 games and is a minus-6, averaging just a touch over 13 minutes during this rough stretch. He's totaled just a goal and two assists over his past 21 games.

Daniel Sprong, who had spent a fair share of time in the press box as a healthy scratch of late, will also draw back into the Red Wings lineup on Friday. Sprong will play with Austin Czarnik and Robby Fabbri to form a productive fourth unit. Czarnik is a very responsible fourth-line center that won't wow you in the offensive zone. Still, he's very reliable in the defensive zone, and when playing between Fabbri and Sprong, he will need to be extra careful in helping the defense in Detroit's zone. Fabbri has totaled 18 goals and 31 points this season in 61 games but is a minus-11. Sprong likewise knows how to find the back of the net, having notched 17 goals and 40 points over 69 games, but is a minus-5.