During training camp, Mike Kitchen talked of what Dennis Rasmussen had to do entering this season.
Be proactive, the Blackhawks assistant coach said at the time, be bold.
“That’s what they told me,” Rasmussen recalled. “Since I got called up I have to do things a little bit quicker, I have to create a little bit more and be more active.”
Rasmussen got the message, and in the time he’s been in the lineup he’s done what the Blackhawks have wanted him to do. He scored his first goal of the season on Tuesday, when he took advantage of a fallen Philadelphia defender, and he’ll be on the fourth line with Marcus Kruger and Jordin Tootoo again on Friday when the Blackhawks face the Columbus Blue Jackets.
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“He showed a lot of character and determination to find a way to make an impact in the game. He bided his time here and then got in there, and he’s done a great job for us,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Gives up some size, gives us some depth, gives us some usefulness as far as playing a couple positions and can take face-offs, kill penalties as well. He’s turned out to be very useful and in a situation where we needed someone to come in and take advantage of it.”
The Blackhawks needed someone to step in after Ryan Hartman was injured last week in Nashville. Rasmussen, who’s played center most of his career, is currently on the wing. It’s different, but Rasmussen isn’t complaining.
“I haven’t played a lot of wing since I moved over here but it’s great. I like to play with Kruger, too, because we can take each other’s spots and cover for each other,” Rasmussen said. “I feel comfortable right now.”
Rasmussen’s in the lineup at the moment but how long will that last? Marian Hossa is out of Friday’s game with a lower-body injury but could come back on Saturday. Still, even when the Blackhawks are healthier they may have to keep Rasmussen in there. As long as he’s playing, he’ll keep trying to be the proactive forward the Blackhawks want him to be.
“I just try to work as hard as possible, win a lot of loose pucks and try to create some chances,” Rasmussen said. “At the same time be reliable, stay on the right side of the puck and be a two-way player.”