How Can the Red Wings Overcome Dylan Larkin’s Injury?

The Hockey Writers

If losing to the Florida Panthers 4-0 on March 2 was not bad enough for the Detroit Red Wings, they also lost captain Dylan Larkin for the next two weeks with a lower-body injury, according to head coach Derek Lalonde. With the team being in the middle of the playoff race and hitting a crucial point of their season, what does losing their leading point-scorer and leader mean for their chances going forward, and how do they overcome said injury?

Red Wings’ Depth Has Come Through Big Time

General manager Steve Yzerman ensured his team had a much deeper roster going into this season after falling flat towards the end of last season. The Red Wings have the most players in the league with ten or more goals, with 12 at that milestone so far. There is plenty of depth to go around. Along with the offseason acquisitions came the mid-season signing of Patrick Kane, who has added another level of danger to the offense the Red Wings already possessed.

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From top to bottom, the Red Wings have found success from all four lines throughout the season, and they will continue to be relied upon with Larkin on the shelf with his injury.

Red Wings Find Themselves in New Territory

Over the last handful of seasons, the Red Wings have not found themselves in the playoff hunt this late in the season, except last season, when their chances seemed to be derailed by two losses in back-to-back games against the Ottawa Senators. One of the key reasons Yzerman looked to build the team the way he has was to have more depth all around and to be able to withstand the long season. This includes injuries or unforeseen obstacles throughout the season, like the Larkin injury.

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While losing their captain and workhorse up front is a tough pill to swallow, fans should not conclude that the season and playoff hopes are over at this point, with Larkin missing the next two weeks. In previous seasons, this would have more of an impact on the team’s success, but with the way the roster has been constructed, the team very well could find themselves treading water until he returns to the ice.

Who The Red Wings Are Tasked With Facing

In the two weeks or so that Larkin is expected to be out of the lineup, the Red Wings will be taking the ice, most likely seven times. In those seven games, they will be taking on only two teams that currently find themselves in a playoff spot (the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights) while taking on a few teams that have struggled this season: the Arizona Coyotes and the Buffalo Sabres (the Red Wings play them twice in the next two weeks).

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Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Red Wings’ schedule not being the “toughest” over the next few weeks should also benefit them with Larkin out. If they can take care of business against the teams they should be able to, they should win at least four games in the next two-week stretch. But the team’s success will depend upon a few players stepping up with the captain out of action.

Who Needs To Step Up

The absence of Larkin on the top line for the Red Wings will obviously have a trickle-down effect, as someone will likely have to slide up to his spot on both the top line and the power play. In the team’s first practice without him, they deployed Joe Veleno at the center spot with Kane and Alex DeBrincat. If this is who Lalonde decides to stick with for at least the next game or so, Veleno has some big shoes to fill.

Joe Veleno Detroit Red Wings
Joe Veleno, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

But he has had a strong season for the Red Wings and has earned himself the opportunity to show he can handle that pressure (especially after being a first-round pick back in 2018). This is a prime time for him to show that he is a valuable piece for the team beyond this season after signing a one-year extension this last offseason.

Veleno himself will not be able to fill the void left by Larkin, as players like Lucas Raymond, Kane and DeBrincat will be relied upon heavily as well. After a down season last season, Raymond has bounced back, while Kane and DeBrincat have continued to showcase their strong chemistry since Kane arrived in Detroit.

Important Two Weeks for The Red Wings

With or without Larkin, these next two weeks were always going to be important for the Red Wings and their playoff chances, especially after the letdown of two losses against the New York Islanders on Feb. 29 and then the Florida Panthers on March 2. But now, with him out, it is even more important that the rest of the team step up their games and help keep things afloat while Larkin is on the shelf. With the way the team is constructed, there is no reason they should not be able to keep themselves on the pace they had been on before the unfortunate past week.

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