| Detroit Free Press
Dylan Larkin sizes up Detroit Red Wings’ 2-2 start to season
Dylan Larkin interview, Jan. 19. 2021.
Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press
One week into the season, the Detroit Red Wings have split their first two series, beating two good opponents. With every game they distance themselves from last season’s disaster; with every game they prove something to themselves.
“I’ve liked our process every game, the way we’ve played with the puck, our confidence,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “Our goaltending has been great. I think starting the season 2-2 is huge for our confidence. The way we are playing is repeatable. Every game we’ve gotten better and more comfortable with the puck. It was a great home stand.”
The Wings head on the road to play two games in Chicago over the weekend, then travel to Dallas. They left Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday having banked a 3-2 overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, again demonstrating growth. When the Blue Jackets scored early in the second period, the Wings responded with a goal two minutes later, when Anthony Mantha fired a loose puck into a wide-open net.
That kind of poise was glaringly absent during last season’s fall to last place.
“We want the puck,” Larkin said. “As opposed to last year, you look up and there’s five backs to you — no one is facing the puck, no one is talking, no one wants it. This year, the new additions on the back end — they’re yelling, they’re screaming for the puck, they want it on their stick. They want to make plays. It is just so much more comforting going back — you have so much confidence that the next guy wants it and he’s there to support you. It helps so much getting the puck out of our own zone and then we can go make plays and play offense.”
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Bobby Ryan is making general manager Steve Yzerman look like an early candidate for making the best low-key offseason signing, having scored four goals in three games. Fellow new forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and Mathias Brome have looked good, too, making plays with the puck and keeping possession even when time and space has been limited. Troy Stecher, Marc Staal and Jon Merrill, and the return of Danny DeKeyser, have stabilized the back end.
“Bobby has done an unreal job,” Tyler Bertuzzi said. “Stetch and Staal and Merrill on the back end, they’ve been a big impact on our d-corps, and having DK back. Vladdy and Bromer — everyone is buying into the system and doing it the right way. They are all great guys and they’re fitting in perfect with us.
“We are feeling good. We have a really good team this year and if we can play like that and keep doing the right things, we will get rewarded with these one-goal wins.”
New goaltender Thomas Greiss and Jonathan Bernier have provided the saves needed to keep games close.
“The fresh faces have helped calm our bench down a little bit,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We don’t seem to be nearly as excitable as we’ve been — is that growth in some of our guys that have returned? Probably. Is that having a lot of guys, new fresh faces, and not necessarily wearing the previous year’s losses or struggles? Probably. We just keep playing and that’s the approach I like. Nothing has bothered us.”
Blashill tweaked the lines to get more guys going, splitting up Larkin, Bertuzzi and Mantha. Blashill said there was no message — but the top line took it otherwise.
“We got the lines mixed up and it sparked us,” Larkin said. “There’s no doubt it was looked at on our line, Mo, myself and Bert, that we needed to get going. I thought Mo was skating great and Bert was battling and scored a huge goal for us.”
Larkin smiled as he described the overtime goal.
“I just got the puck on net and it went off Bert and in true Tyler Bertuzzi fashion, off his behind and off his foot and maybe his stick and in the net,” he said. “It touched a lot. More importantly we got two points and it was a big goal for him and our hockey team.”
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.
Detroit Red Wings’ Tyler Bertuzzi breaks down overtime goal
Tyler Bertuzzi interview, Jan. 19, 2021.
Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press