Dennis Rasmussen finds himself on the outside looking in

DETROIT — If you’re waiting for Dennis Rasmussen to go on an angry rant about playing time or to smash a stick in his locker stall out of frustration, don’t hold your breath. Rasmussen is one of the more easygoing guys around, an affable sort who’s not the type to ruffle any feathers or call attention to himself.

But, yes, he very much wants to play. And, yes, it bothers him that he’s not.

“Of course, I want to play,” the second-year forward said. “But it’s all about the team here. We have a lot of games coming up, and it’s going to be important that everyone is ready to play. I’ve got to be ready. I’ve got to skate hard in practice, and I’ve got to show up every day and show that I want to be in the lineup and play important minutes. That’s my mindset going forward.”

Rasmussen was a healthy scratch Friday for the third consecutive game and fourth in his last six. The arrival of Tomas Jurco via trade and the presence of veterans Andrew Desjardins and Jordin Tootoo have left Rasmussen on the outside looking in. It’s a sudden, and mildly surprising, development.

Dennis Rasmussen has just one goal and one assist since Dec. 18. (AP Photo)

Rasmussen entered the lineup in the third game of the season and seemed to have entrenched himself as a regular, sitting out only two of the next 59 games, averaging a healthy 12 minutes as a penalty-killer and defensive forward. But with so many penalty-killers and so many bottom-six-type players on the roster now, there’s only so much ice time to go around.

But as coach Joel Quenneville always says, a player’s performance usually dictates his playing time.

“I know I can play a little bit better,” said Rasmussen, who has four goals and four assists in 59 games but only one goal and one assist since Dec. 18. “I know I can play with a little more pace. I feel like I’ve created a couple of chances, but we just haven’t scored on those chances. That’s one thing I can do better, is score on my chances. But at the same time, I have to value the defensive play because that’s my role on this team.”

With the Hawks only two games into a 17-game, 31-day scramble to the playoffs, Rasmussen surely will get back in the lineup eventually. Once he does, it’ll be up to him to stay there.

“If I play better, then I’m going to play,” Rasmussen said. “That’s all it is. But if I don’t play, then I’m going to try to help the team whenever I can and try to show in every practice that I really want to play, and that I deserve to play.”

Take it easy

Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya got the game off. With three games in four days — including a Sunday-morning showdown with the Wild — Quenneville wants to be careful with his shutdown defenders, both of whom are coming off injuries.

Michal Kempny and Michal Rozsival skated in their place. In the heat of a division race, but in the midst of a grueling schedule, Quenneville will have to walk a fine line with how he doles out rest.

“We’re trying to win,” he said. “You want to give yourself the best chance you can, and the best lineup. . . . With [Oduya] and [Hjalmarsson] coming in, with eight defensemen, four pairs, we’re solid in all aspects. And these guys get a chance to get fresh again for Sunday.”

Ticket hike

The Hawks sent out season-ticket renewal information and revealed that the cost of season tickets will go up an average of 4 percent. Standing-room-only season tickets go for $50 a game, while the highest-end seats will cost $500 per game.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus.

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com


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