Red Wings: Detroit’s top line is performing at an elite level

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The Detroit Red Wings top line is one of the best in the league this season. Dylan Larkin, Lucas Raymond and Tyler Bertuzzi have been stellar leading a heavily improved offense unit.

Last season, it was the defense that carried the team, with a good chunk of the forwards focused more on two-way play. The 2020-21 Red Wings 2.23 goals per game was the second worst in the league. This season, Detroit has improved to 2.81 goals for per game, which is 18th in the league. A majority of that improvement is a direct result of the Wings top three players.

The Bertuzzi-Larkin-Raymond isn’t just a fantastic line for Detroit, it’s one of the better units in the league this year. The line has the second highest expected goals for in the league, with 12.1 (not including defensive pairings, per moneypuck.com). Defensively, the line hasn’t been as great, but the same can be said for a majority of the team

Raymond seems to be the key unlocking both Bertuzzi and Larkin’s potential. The rookie has been phenomenal and looks like a star in the making. He leads all rookies in scoring with 28 points in 31 games and he’s the frontrunner for the Calder Trophy (although Trevor Zegras is right behind him). He’s a duel threat, possessing elite playmaking skills and a dangerous shot.

After an extremely hot start to the year, Bertuzzi has cooled off a bit, but he’s still a key part of the top line. His importance to the line is felt in his absences – when the team travels to Canada, things usually go poorly (due to his vaccination status, he cannot participate in games north of the border). After missing a majority of last year’s season due to injury and losing a line mate (Anthony Mantha), Bert seems to have not missed a beat.

Larkin is having a fantastic year. After a mediocre season marked by injuries and COVID-19, the captain is in the midst of a remarkable turnaround. After averaging .52 points per game last year, Larkin is averaging over a point per game with 29 through 27 games (which leads the team). He’s becoming a truly dangerous center, combining that two-way skillset he worked on last year with his already established offensive toolkit. Larkin looks comfortable with his role as the team’s captain.

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