Enter Sandman: Rasmus Sandin Continues To Work On 200-Foot Game

Washington Capitals defenseman Rasmus Sandin has taken many trips to MedStar Capitals Iceplex, but there was one caveat. He had not acquired an American driver’s license and was driving around the D.M.V with his Swedish one that he had for the last six years and his main source of transportation was Uber. 

But now that he has settled in with an American license on-hand, Sandin has also started to settle into his new role on the Capitals’ roster. Coming over from the Toronto Maple Leafs at last year’s trade deadline, Sandin knew that he was going to have a top-four role in D.C. that involved big minutes. While the uptick in ice time has increased drastically in Washington compared to Toronto, the left-shot rearguard had a tough start to the year.

In the very first game of the 2023-24 campaign, when the Caps were blanked 4-0 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sandin had a plus/minus rating of -2 and had a bad turnover in front of the net that almost resulted in a goal. 

“Defensively he’s always going to be someone that has to pay attention to that part of his game. It just doesn’t come naturally to him. It’s not the type of defenseman he is…  If he’s gonna play 27, 28, 26 minutes a night, he’s gonna have to be able to defend,” Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery said. “That’s the rush, that’s being able as an undersized defenseman to use your stick, use your body intelligently. You don’t have to overpower people but you’re gonna have to use it in a strategic way to win puck battles, to box out, all that stuff.”

Though the 2018 first-round pick says that he has always paid attention to the defensive part of his game and says that it has always come naturally to him. However, it still needs to be improved. Sitting at just 5-foot-11 and 182 pounds, Sandin is not one to play a physical game, so he’s had to find other ways to help his team defensively. 

“It’s something I’ve been working on and keep working on with [assistant coach Mitch Love] and watching a lot of videos and stuff,” Sandin told NoVaCaps. “So just keep getting better at everything. Not just the defensive side of the puck. It’s important to use my stick… I’m not the biggest guy so I can’t really bully guys down in the corner or whatever, but the only thing I can do is move my feet and be in the right position to have a good step.”

While his play in his own zone needs to be better, his offensive game has slowly started to take shape. He has points in three of his last five games and has two assists in his last two contests. 

Sandin’s first point of the season came against the Columbus Blue Jackets, when he had the secondary assist on Sonny Milano’s goal with three minutes to go in the second period. 

Though he could have had two had the league not marked him down for the primary helper on Tom Wilson’s opening goal. Sandin carried the puck up the ice, but lost possession after he was poke checked, and it eventually worked its way to Wilson.

 The 23-year-old blue-liner logged a season high 26:24 minutes of ice time in the 4-1 win against the New York Islanders, along with having an assist. The night before, against the New Jersey Devils, he played 25:29 and had the primary assist on Nicolas Aube-Kubel’s opening tally. It was a perfect pass to set up Aube-Kubel for the one-time blast.

Meanwhile, his underlying offensive numbers have seen a jump from the start of the campaign. He has created 10 or more scoring chances in six out of his last seven games and has created more high danger scoring opportunities.

Sandin will look to continue to build on his offensive game when the Capitals host the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.

By Jacob Cheris

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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4 Responses to Enter Sandman: Rasmus Sandin Continues To Work On 200-Foot Game

  1. Anonymous says:

    He has done a nice job riding opposing wingers down the ice along the boards, using his hips as leverage, multiple times recently. I don’t hear it getting called out during the game, but he stops the play and the pluck gets loose and goes the other way so definitely getting better. Oh yeah, less mistakes recently too. Glad I bought his jersey.

  2. Prevent Defense says:

    Total coincidence: “The Caps also have had five goals wiped off the scoreboard – in a span of just seven games – because of successful coach’s challenges” [M. Vogel, 13 Nov 2023]. Oshie’s goalie interference earlier this season was clearly a ref fumble, and several of the four Bottmann-Rule-Offsides calls were inconclusive. Standard video-game garbage from Bottmann, Inc.

    Caps have been up against this for decades. The Lemieux – Jagr – Crosby PIT Penguins club has gotten sweetheart referee calls since the 1990s. And you got to be pretty stubborn to not notice the ham-nanded treatment of Ovechkin Caps teams during the CoNvid Plannedemic phase of the NHL — you know, the one where players can play and refs can ref but fans can’t watch and in Communist Canada the seats were covered with plastic sheeting.

    It would be a fun statistical (?!) drill to determine the Caps’ all-time score in “Coach’s Challenge” eliminated goals. The calls were loud and shrill from fans 20 years ago, demanding more scoring. The NHL responded with measures: Eliminating the two-line pass, relaxing the Zero-tolerance-in-the-crease rule, moving all new-penalty face-offs to the defensive zone … other adjustments too. But the same Gory Bottmann dolts sabotage all those good ideas with the all-time stupid rule: The Gory Bottmann Offsides Goal Recall. Only the most supreme idiocy comes up with this.

    With the Gory Bottmann Offsides Goal Recall, the only outcome, should the Video Game Review countermand the Linesman call on the ice, is wiping out an NHL goal. Brilliant! Do a little internet research … and the Ugly Statistic looks something like this: 32 NHL Teams, average of 8 disallowed goals per season. That’s 192 wiped-out goals per season. And further ugliness from the fan perspective: “Challenged” Offsides plays are not stopped on the ice — unless a goal is scored! So by definition, Offsides Challenge has only the effect of removing goals. The players play-on during the challenged event. What happens if Player X incurs a season-ending injury during the event? NHLPA will they care? What if it’s a Playoff Seventh Game?

    Many permutations of offsides-onsides are possible. Why not contest EVERY possible improper offsides? That could stop the game 6 or 7 times per contest. Why not allow a contested-offsides goal to stand – and award a Penalty Shot to a “successfully” challenging team? Or even more sensibly, why not just “live with” our NHL Linesmen and ignore an offsides that might be all of two centimeters in violation?

    The idiots of Major League Baseball could come up with their own version of the video-review insanity: Reviewable Strikes. In this new “innovation,” Team X can demand a video examination of all seven pitches to Marcus Semien in one of his World Series 3-run homer at bats. The runs are on the scoreboard, the players and fans have celebrated, the Score adjusted. But NO! Diamondbacks Manager Lovullo demands a “look back” challenge of the at bat. The Umps spend six minutes examining all seven pitches … and determine that pitch four was actually a Strike when ruled Ball! Off come the runs, Semien is declared “out” and runners placed back on First and Third.

    It’s not far-fetched at all! The reversed Home Run is exactly analogous to the Eliminated NHL Goal. With a burning passion I hate the rule, and all video reviews in Pro Sports. Accept Umpire and Referee and Linesman judgments. It’s called “Good Sportsmanship.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Whoa, strong strong post. I’ve never given this much thought until now. Love it PD!!

      Now, if we can stop calling the “midwest” the “midwest” since most of it is nowhere near the west or “midwest” (hell, a quarter of it is in the eastern time zone…….lets go with Heartland. We have changed names of countries; we can certainly fix this nonsense!!

    • Anonymous says:

      This was as incoherent as ever my guy. The offsides rule is good, the caps just need to work on being onside

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