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Notes: Rasmussen returns to lineup; Larkin still questionable

Everyone looking forward to Fathers and Mentors trip, especially the first-timers

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- The prodigal son has returned.

Red Wings rookie Michael Rasmussen, fresh off a three-game conditioning stint with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, was back in the optional morning skate at Little Caesars Arena.

Rasmussen missed 10 games with a hamstring injury.

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Although he had healed before the All-Star break, the Wings did not want to rush him back with just one or two practices under his belt.

"I had a chance to watch him play last night," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "I thought he was excellent. Not live. I watched it on the nice little iPad there. I thought he did a really good job. I thought as the game went along, he controlled the puck really well. I would think that would put him in a position to come back with lots of confidence.

"So coming off the injury where he hadn't played for a long time, I think it's great that he got a chance to go down and play three games and have some success. They had a big comeback win last night. I talked to him this morning. He was pumped about it. So hopefully he can roll right in the lineup and do a good job."

Although Blashill wasn't watching Rasmussen in person, he could still tell the impact the 6-foot-6, 221-pound forward had.

"He looks like a big man out there," Blashill said. "He's 19 years old in the American Hockey League. I spent three years in the American Hockey League. It's hard to stand out and I thought he stood out in a real positive fashion last night."

Rasmussen scored two goals, one an empty-netter, in his AHL debut with the Griffins in Texas against the Stars.

"It was good, it was a good couple games there," Rasmussen said. "Guys were great. It was good hockey. Nice to get back at it."

After such a long layoff from game action, it was valuable for Rasmussen to play with the Griffins before getting back into games at the NHL level.

"It's definitely some of the reason why it's there, you can just go down there and kind of get some conditioning and get some reps and play some really good hockey," Rasmussen said. "I'm glad I did that."

Blashill not only talked to Rasmussen, he spoke with Griffins coach Ben Simon about Rasmussen.

"Ben was happy with it," Blashill said. "He takes a pretty workmanlike approach. It's hard not to appreciate the way that he approaches the game. So he was happy with his game."

As he did during the NHL Prospect Tournament, Rasmussen had a chance to play with fellow first-round draft pick Filip Zadina.

"He was good, his game's definitely progressed," Rasmussen said. "He's playing really well and playing both ends of the rink. You see him blocking shots and making hard plays on the walls, then his offensive side of the game obviously comes pretty naturally for him and comes easy. It's good to see."

LARKIN'S STATUS: Center Dylan Larkin participated in the team's optional morning skate but his status is still uncertain for the game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

"I would call him questionable," Blashill said. "He was gonna try it here today, see how he feels. We're just measuring where he's at, what his body feels from a risk management standpoint. So we'll see tonight."

Larkin strained an oblique in overtime last Friday at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs and did not play Saturday in Ottawa.

After the morning skate, Larkin got a chance to meet two members of the U.S. women's national team, Dani Cameranesi and Alex Rigsby, who will play against the Canadian women's national team in the final game of their three-game Rivalry Series at Little Caesars Arena on Feb. 17.

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"It's awesome to see that they're Olympic champs and they have this rivalry with Canada, they have a three-game series," Larkin said. "It's pretty special. I got to meet a few of them today, they're really excited and so are we. We're excited to have them here and hopefully catch a little bit of their game when they're here on the 17th."

THIRD TIME AGAINST VEGAS: The Red Wings face the Golden Knights for the third time in history tonight after splitting the two games last season.

The Golden Knights are a bit different from the team the Wings played last season, adding Max Pacioretty, the former Montreal captain, in a September trade, and center Paul Stastny as a free agent last July 1.

"(Pacioretty's) a real goal scorer," Blashill said. "He's scored in this league for a long, long time. I think that Stastny's one of the more underrated centermen in the league. I've thought that for awhile. One of my best friends that coaches the national team development program, Seth Appert, had him at Denver, so I've known lots about him, his character and all that stuff. I think he's real underrated.

"In a league where everybody just falls in love with skating, he does it with his smarts and his hockey sense and his skillset. That combination of him and Pacioretty, you got a real passer, a guy who can hold onto the puck, create space and dish it to him. That can be a lethal combination. It doesn't surprise me that they're having success together."

Pacioretty has 16 goals and 13 assists in 42 games. Stastny, who missed 29 games from Oct. 10-Dec. 14 with a lower-body injury, has six goals and 14 assists in 25 games.

Vegas is 30-21-4 and sits third in the Pacific Division and fifth in the Western Conference with 64 points.

FATHERS AND MENTORS: One of the favorite times of the year for the Red Wings has arrived -- the annual Fathers and Mentors trip.

Many of the dads are already in town to see the home game against Vegas before leaving Friday for Buffalo.

It'll be especially fun for rookies Dennis Cholowski, Christoffer Ehn and Rasmussen, who are experiencing this for the first time.

"It's pretty cool," Rasmussen said. "He's definitely excited, I'm really excited to have him along. Definitely will be pretty cool, father and son time will be good."

Although Jacob de la Rose is not a rookie, this will also be the first Fathers and Mentors trip for him and his father, Anders.

"I think he's very excited, too," de la Rose said. "I talked to him yesterday and he was super excited. It's going to be fun."

During de la Rose's first season with the Montreal Canadiens, they discontinued their Fathers and Mentors trip and have not brought it back.

Although the dads have a good idea of what their sons do, it's something else to see it up close.

"He's been down in the locker room and stuff but this will be the first time he gets to see how we travel and all that," de la Rose said. "It's probably a dream coming true for him, too, so it's going to be fun."

It's also a bonus for de la Rose to get to spend a little more time with his dad.

"He usually comes maybe twice a year to watch some games, so for sure, it's fun," de la Rose said. "Every time you get to see your family, it's good times."

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