Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Dennis Rasmussen Delivers In The Clutch

By George Clifford
Dec 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Dennis Rasmussen (70) with the puck during the first period against the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Dennis Rasmussen (70) with the puck during the first period against the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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Contributing three points in the past five games, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Dennis Rasmussen is making an impact on both ends of the ice

With Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford out of the lineup, the Chicago Blackhawks have looked to their role players for key contributions as they battle to stay atop the Central Division. With a goal and two assists in the past five games, Dennis Rasmussen has emerged as a difference-maker while anchoring Chicago’s surprisingly potent checking line.

Here’s a look at the 26-year-old Swedish centerman and what he’s brought to the Blackhawks over the past week’s action.                                                                               

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Skill meets opportunity

After five years in the Swedish leagues, Rasmussen came to the Blackhawks organization in June 2014 and played the entire 2014-15 season with the Rockford IceHogs.

In his NHL debut with the Blackhawks on Dec. 8, 2015, he scored a goal against Nashville’s Pekka Rinne. He contributed nine points in 44 games with the ‘Hawks before finishing out the 2015-16 season in Rockford.

Opportunity came knocking again this season as Chicago was forced to fill vacancies created by the losses of Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Shaw. Rasmussen has made the most of it, playing in 25 of 28 games so far.

Delivering in the clutch

Over the past five games Rasmussen has delivered at both ends of the ice, generating three points off eight shots along with six hits and five takeaways. Flashing both power and playmaking skill, he scored against the Arizona Coyotes while camped out at the net, and his beautiful touch-pass sprung Marcus Kruger’s game-tying goal against the New Jersey Devils.

Rasmussen has been one of the Blackhawks’ better penalty killers. In addition to five blocked shots, he’s excelled at breaking up plays and clearing the defensive zone, and even created a shorthanded breakaway chance against the ‘Yotes.

A clever mix of brawn and brains, Rasmussen leads all Blackhawks centers with 28 hits and 23 blocked shots, while taking only two minor penalties. The only shortfall is at the dot where his 43.6 percent faceoff wins lags his teammates.

Next: Chicago Blackhawks Eye on the Enemy: New York Rangers (Blue Line Station)

Tuesday’s 4-0 shutout over the inept Coyotes halted a two-game skid, but the Blackhawks will be facing much stiffer competition over the next 10 days in tilts against the Rangers, Stars, Blues and Sharks. In what could be a season-defining run of games, the Blackhawks will be looking for big contributions from role players like Rasmussen.

Let’s hope Moose continues to play to script in a leading role.

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