Confidence, maturity spark Red Wings’ Michael Rasmussen to career-best season

Detroit — In April, within the final four weeks of the regular season, Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin was asked about Michael Rasmussen’s development.

Few players on the Wings roster improved and stood out — especially in the second half of the schedule — as Rasmussen did. The Wings’ 2017 first-round pick noticeably began looking like the player the organization envisioned when they selected him ninth overall.

“I see confidence and he’s gotten it for himself,”  Larkin said after another impressive Rasmussen game. “It’s not really anyone’s job to give you confidence. Through his maturity, he’s really grown into finding that, playing the right way and gaining trust from the coaching staff and getting put in key situations and then excelling.

“You’re seeing it now, where pucks are starting to go in. He’s hard around the net. He’s a thorn in the side of key players on the other team every night. It’s really encouraging to see the way he plays.”

Then, Larkin gave Rasmussen one of the purest, highest cliche compliments a hockey player can get.

“He’s really driving the bus for us right now,” Larkin said.

Michael Rasmussen set a new career high with 15 goals, with three in his last five games.

When told about it afterward, Rasmussen was humbled, as a young hockey player would be.

“That’s really nice, coming from a guy who every night drives the bus for us, leads us. That’s a compliment I’ll take,” Rasmussen said. “(I’m) just try to keep going and keep playing the same way.”

Rasmussen did, and he finished with an NHL career-high 15 goals, including seven over the final 16 games. In his last five games of the season, Rasmussen scored three goals, had one assist and put 16 shots on net.

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