The Athletic’s Burtchfield talks about Dylan Larkin, power play contributor

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.”

Continued (paywall)…

Red Wings-Maple Leafs morning skate Tweets: Abdelkader absent as black lower-bowl seats make their debut

The Detroit Red Wings will attempt to stifle the Toronto Maple Leafs’ offensive machine this evening (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/TSN4/97.1 FM), with the Wings hoping to earn their first win of the season against the 3-and-1 Leafs.

The betting odds for today’s games do not favor the Wings, and

The Red Wings hit the ice at Little Caesars Arena just before 10:30 AM for their morning skate, as noted by the Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa…

And the Red Wings:

Krupa spotted a change to LCA’s lineup, as it were:

Continue reading Red Wings-Maple Leafs morning skate Tweets: Abdelkader absent as black lower-bowl seats make their debut

CBC podcast includes Kris Draper’s take on the Wings-Avs rivalry

The CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada podcast has just launched, and this week’s episode includes Rob Pizzo speaking with Kris Draper and Chris Nilan about heated rivalries:


Red Wings-Maple Leafs set-up: winless Wings hope to slow down streaking Leafs

The Detroit Red Wings will attempt to earn their first win of the season as the 0-1-and-2 Wings host the 3-and-1 Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/TSN4/97.1 FM).

The Wings will play minus Dennis Cholowski, who’s got an upper-body injury, but Niklas Kronwall will be making his return to the lineup as the Wings hope to hold the fort down versus the offensively-prolific Leafs.

Our friends from Toronto are coming off a 7-4 victory over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. The Leafs have scored 20 goals over the course of their first 4 games, yielding all sorts of all-time-great-comparison gobbledygook for Auston Matthews, gushy praise for John Tavares, Nazem Kadri and everyone else wearing blue and white, and the Toronto Sun’s Lance Hornby suggests that the Maple Leaf Hype Train is backed up by some really impressive stats:

Continue reading Red Wings-Maple Leafs set-up: winless Wings hope to slow down streaking Leafs

Athanasiou suggests that William Nylander won’t be affected by contract holdout

The Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan headed to Detroit ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, with the Leafs practicing in Dallas while Koshan attended Detroit’s practice at LCA.

Koshan did so to ask Andreas Athanasiou about parallels between his contract holdout last season and the current situation of one William Nylander, who remains unsigned by Toronto:

“Everyone trains so well these days,” Athanasiou said on Wednesday. “It’s not easy coming into the season when haven’t had camp or game action, but you step into it right away. He will be back in a rhythm, I’m sure, after a couple of shifts.”

Of course, there must be the consideration that Nylander, perhaps, takes those couple of shifts with another team. The longer the impasse goes between the Leafs and agent Lewis Gross, it’s possible general manager Kyle Dubas looks more intently at a trade option, likely for a defenceman. Time remains on the side of the Leafs and Nylander, for now, as the deadline for the winger to be signed isn’t until Dec. 1.

Athanasiou said he never took the contract negotiations between his agent, Darren Ferris (who counts Mitch Marner among his clients) and Wings general manager Ken Holland personally, understanding that the at-times slow pace of talks were, as Athanasiou said, “part of the business.”

Athanasiou scored in his second game after signing and finished the 2017-18 season with 33 points (16 goals and 17 assists) in 71 games. This past July, the 24-year-old signed a two-year, $6-million contract.

While Athanasiou’s situation came to a conclusion that satisfied both sides, he can imagine what Nylander is experiencing.

“You always want to know what’s going on, and you’re just sitting there  waiting,” Athanasiou said. “I was watching our games when I was over in Switzerland, and you’re trying to keep track of everything. Whenever a deal got done and I stepped on the ice, I was going to be ready. He has been playing hockey his whole life. He will be fine.”

Libor Sulak among rookies earning praise from THN’s Campbell

The Hockey News’s Ken Campbell gives six lesser-known rookies a “shout out,” and Libor Sulak made Campbell’s list:

Libor Sulak, Detroit: The Red Wings made it abundantly clear that there were jobs to be taken on their roster and one of them went to the 24-year-old Sulak, who took advantage of a blueline that has been besieged by injuries to regulars Mike Green, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley. Sulak played two games with the Grand Rapids Griffins late last season and impressed with his shot and puck-moving ability. He also had an impressive World Championship for the Czech Republic. He might not be around when the Red Wings get all their regular defensemen back, but one of the pleasant surprises for the Red Wings early is that a good number of their young kids, including Sulak, can play at the NHL level.

Little known fact: Sulak was on loan to the Pelicans of the Finnish League last season and finished second among defensemen in goals with nine.


Kulfan, Wings discuss match-up with Toronto

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan posted a post-practice news cycle article discussing tomorrow’s match-up between the Red Wings and the 3-and-1 Toronto Maple Leafs:

Thursday’s game will be the first between the teams this season, and with the Wings searching for their first victory, this might not be the best time for Detroit.

The young defense the Wings are playing with now will be severely tested. In the next-to-last preseason game, against a nearly-full Toronto lineup, the Leafs defeated the Wings 6-2.

“The good thing for us is, at least we saw them in the exhibition and all the young D (defensemen) played in that exhibition game,” Blashill said. “We know how fast they can come at you and we’re better prepared having done that. It doesn’t mean we’ll meet that challenge. It’s up to us to show that. If they’re coming at us flying 100 miles per hour the whole night, it’ll be a long night. We better put the puck behind them, grind them in their zone and make them defend as much as possible. If we do that we’ll be in a good spot. If we don’t, it’ll be a hard night.”

In an effort to generate more offense, Blashill switched two lines during Wednesday’s practice, moving Justin Abdelkader with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, while Gustav Nyquist skated with Andreas Athanasiou and Thomas Vanek.

Blashill didn’t commit to the changes for the game but needs to see more offense, especially with Toronto coming to Little Caesars Arena.

“Just a look to see if we can’t make one little adjustment to score a bit more. We’re close to scoring,” Blashill said. “Nyquist has a real high hockey IQ, too, and had good success with Vanek (two seasons ago). We’ll see if maybe we can replicate some of that.”


Griffins post weekly press release ahead of home opener vs. Hershey, road tilt vs. Chicago

Here’s the Grand Rapids Griffins’ weekly press release ahead of the team’s home opener vs. the Hershey Bears on Friday, October 12th. MLive’s Peter J. Wallner has also posted a “Meet the 2018-19 Grand Rapids Griffins” set of head shots and biographies:


GRIFFINS vs. Hershey Bears // Fri., Oct. 12 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:05 p.m.
Watch: AHLTV
Season Series: First of two meetings overall, first and last at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 3-1-0-0 Home, 7-1-0-0 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Washington Capitals
Noteworthy: In its 81st AHL season, Hershey is the oldest franchise on the circuit.

GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves // Sat., Oct. 13 // 8 p.m. EDT // Allstate Arena
Listen: WBFX 101.3 FM at 7:35 p.m.
Watch: AHLTV, CW50 (Chicago)
Season Series: First of eight meetings overall, first of four at Allstate Arena
All-Time Series: 41-31-0-2-1 Road, 81-56-2-6-3 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Vegas Golden Knights
Noteworthy: Chicago has won back-to-back Central Division titles.

Continue reading Griffins post weekly press release ahead of home opener vs. Hershey, road tilt vs. Chicago