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Derek Lalonde calls out Joe Veleno prior to matchup vs. Rangers

Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde calls out the struggling Joe Veleno before tomorrow night’s game.

It’s officially crunch time for the Detroit Red Wings as they remain mathematically alive in the tightly contested Eastern Conference playoff race. With the news that Michael Rasmussen will be sidelined for tomorrow night’s game against the New York Rangers, the Red Wings will rely on players like Joe Veleno, despite his recent struggles, to step up and fill the void.

Derek Lalonde calls out

Joe Veleno is pointless in his last 15 games

Politely put, the Red Wings are experiencing a shortfall in production from Veleno, who was a late first-round pick in the 2018 Draft. Since Detroit’s 5-3 defeat to the New York Islanders on February 29, he hasn’t recorded a single point in 15 games. It’s worth noting that this game marked the beginning of Detroit’s seven-game losing streak in regulation. Considering Veleno’s draft position and his promotion to the first line in captain Dylan Larkin‘s absence, this lack of output level is far below any reasonable expectation.

Derek Lalonde calls out Veleno’s lack of consistency

Lalonde is optimistic about Veleno’s potential to step up and fill the void left by Rasmussen, a role that might extend beyond just tomorrow night’s game, but in no uncertain terms said that he must be more consistent.

“You hope Joe can give us very similar type of play as far as some size, skating and getting to those hard areas,” Lalonde said.

“You’re seeking consistency from him,” Lalonde said. “The first time Dylan was out, there were some games he (Veleno) was at 20-22 minutes, playing No. 1 or 2 center and there was some growth in that. There are just some inconsistencies in his game. Last game it got away from us a little bit in that he only had a handful of minutes, but Tampa is a different animal on the road. Every time I was ready to have him up, (Brayden) Point and (Nikita) Kucherov were coming out and then the special teams started rolling. We kind of got into a little rhythm and we wanted to get through as many minutes as we could.”

Lalonde then pointed to a critical turnover committed by Veleno that resulted in an extended offensive zone attack for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their most recent game.

“But early in the game, he turns the puck over and it ends up in our zone for 90 seconds against their top guys,” Lalonde explained. “He’ll be in the top nine against the Rangers. He’s showing flashes of some elite hockey and then there are some flashes of his game where it’s not where any of us want it to be.

“It’s just consistency in his game because it’s all there, the tools (and) he can skate. There’s a lot there.”

Joe Veleno contract extension

TL;DR (too long didn’t read)

  1. The Detroit Red Wings are in the midst of a tightly contested race toward the playoffs, with a key matchup tomorrow against the Rangers
  2. Forward Joe Veleno is not meeting expectations, as he’s been held pointless in his last 15 games
  3. Head coach Derek Lalonde calls out Veleno’s lack of consistency and wants him to rise to the occasion in the absence of Michael Rasmussen

Bottom Line: Joe Veleno absolutely must start contributing

Currently, the Red Wings find themselves just one point shy of the final Wild Card spot, with a slight advantage over the Philadelphia Flyers whom they’re pursuing, courtesy of a game in hand.

To secure a victory against the Rangers tomorrow night at Little Caesars Arena, Veleno must rise to the occasion and demonstrate the caliber that justified his selection in the valuable Round 1 Draft.

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