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Notes: Rasmussen to play game at Little Caesars Arena for first time

Abdelkader practicing with team, hopes to get in exhibition game this week

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - The Red Wings are taking a nice, long look at Michael Rasmussen, their first-round pick, ninth overall, from the draft this past June.

You can't help but notice the 6-foot-6, 221-pound center when he's on the ice and he'll be on the ice quite a bit against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Wings coach Jeff Blashill has Rasmussen centering Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist and on a power-play unit.

"I think it gives us a chance to see obviously a real high pick play with two talented players," Blashill said. "As I said, I thought he was really good in Chicago, one of our best forwards. He practiced with us yesterday with our main team, he did some things that showed some real high-end skill. It'll be good to see him tonight."

Having experienced NHL veterans on his line will help Rasmussen. They can communicate with him on the bench between shifts.

"This is his chance to show the coaches he should be here and I'm looking forward to playing with him," Tatar said. "I will try to help him on the ice as much as I can to make him feel comfortable, feel confident."

Rasmussen has one goal and is minus-1 in two preseason games. Tatar said he has been impressed with Rasmussen's skills in practice.

"Big body. It should be one of his game keys. He should learn how to use that body," Tatar said. "It's a little different to play in NHL than in other leagues but he has a lot of time to show it.

"Really good. I could see that last practice. He just looked really good. Young talent, really high pick prospect."

This will be Rasmussen's first chance to play a game in new Little Caesars Arena.

"I watched the game the other night," Rasmussen. "I'm real excited. I think it's a great rink, so I'm real excited."

Rasmussen is enjoying his first experience in an NHL training camp and preseason.

"Just everything about the play, my teammates and all that, whether it's the pace of the game or the strength of the game or just how these guys prepare and work hard," Rasmussen said. "I think all those things will leave with me, I guess."

Rasmussen wants to perform well, of course, but Blashill said he does not evaluate young players on just one or two preseason games.

"Ultimately, you drafted him to be an impact player," Blashill said. "I think (director of amateur scouting) Tyler Wright believed he was going to be a high-impact type player. So now we've got him with two good players and let's see how he does. Let's also take it with a grain of salt, it's one game and he's real young."

ABDELKADER IMPROVING: In nearly every NHL training camp each year, there's at least one player who has to deal with a sore groin.

For the Wings, that player is Justin Abdelkader, who started having issues on Sunday in training camp in Traverse City.

"It's kind of building from camp and I thought that it was something that I could kind of get by and it would get better but it didn't," Abdelkader said. "It kind of got worse. Obviously with those kind of injuries, you got to make sure you stay on top of them, otherwise they can put you out three or four weeks at least. I think we've done a good job of making sure that I still get stuff done in the gym when I haven't been on the ice. But obviously you want to be on the ice, that's most important."

Abdelkader has skated on his own the last couple of days but went hard in practice with his teammates Monday.

"Today was the most that I've done, for sure," Abdelkader said. "Feels good, hopefully tomorrow same thing and keep building and try to get at least one game in. "Obviously groins are always something that can be frustrating but you got to take your time and make sure that it's not something that's going to nag on as the season starts. You want to be healthy going into the season."

ANOTHER CHANCE FOR FRK: Had Abdelkader not been hurt, he might be playing tonight on a line with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha.

But since Abdelkader is out, that gives Martin Frk another opportunity to show off his special shot.

In Saturday night's exhibition game against the Boston Bruins, Frk had two goals and an assist after not recording a point in his first two preseason games.

"I think if I'm Martin Frk and I've been on the power play, I'm playing with good players, players are smart," Blashill said. "They look at it and say boy, it looks like I might have a chance to make this team."

The Wings currently have a forward spot open with Tyler Bertuzzi out with a wrist injury and Andreas Athanasiou still unsigned.

Blashill had a message for Frk, whom Blashill says has learned to play with confidence in the American Hockey League.

"What that's done is he's calmed himself down, the game's slowed down a little bit for him, he isn't as erratic as he was when I first had him," Blashill said. "He forechecks great, which is awesome. He tracks extremely hard. He's just got to make sure that he plays with lots of confidence. Him and I had a conversation, I told him if he can replicate the growth process that he's already gone through and just keep that growth process going, he's an NHL player for sure.

"He's got a special skill set to be able to shoot a puck. He's learned over time how to hit the net. Just play with lots of confidence and keep going."

AGAINST PITTSBURGH: Here is the lineup for the Wings against the Penguins tonight:

Forward lines: Tatar-Rasmussen-Nyquist


Ben Street-Luke Glendening-Witkowski

Matt Lorito-Axel Holmstrom-Dylan Sadowy

Defense pairs:

Xavier Ouellet-Ryan Sproul

Dennis Cholowski-Dylan McIlrath

Joe Hicketts-Robbie Russo

Goaltenders: Jimmy Howard starts with Tom McCollum as the backup.

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