The Athletic’s Max Bultman penned a lengthy article discussing Dylan Larkin’s need to evolve into a power play performer:
Larkin’s need to improve on the power play is not a new idea. Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill discussed it in the preseason, and, after Detroit’s 3-2 season-opening loss to Columbus, he tacked it onto the end of an answer about Larkin taking the proverbial next step. After running through general comments about Larkin’s compete level and saying he had done “a pretty good job” in that game, Blashill paused for a full beat.
“His next step for me,” he then said, “will be being great on the power play.”
Looking at the fourth-year center’s numbers, that is hard to argue. His 2.7 power-play points per 60 minutes last year fell far behind many of the 70-plus-point centers he might otherwise accompany — guys like Nicklas Backstrom, whose even-strength production rate is similar to Larkin’s, despite 10 more total points. In their case, the difference is essentially that Backstrom is twice as efficient on the man advantage. It, of course, also helps to have a supporting cast like Backstrom does in Washington. Broadly speaking, though, there’s a similar separation between Larkin and some of the game’s best two-way centers, as 97.1’s Will Burchfield explored last month.
The more complicated question, though, is not so much whether Larkin needs to up his production at 5-on-4. It’s how he can do it. And an easy answer is not so simple to find.
“I’d say with him, he’s a guy who wants to attack,” Blashill said last week. “I’d say unforced errors would be the biggest thing for him. Don’t give the puck away. Let’s have the puck as much as we can on the power play. Make plays without trying to force things that aren’t there, and then be a shooter.”