Red Wings-Blue Jackets wrap-up: Larkin finds his form as Detroit earns 3rd exhibition win

The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1 on Saturday evening, thanks to excellent performances by Dylan Larkin (2 goals and an assist), Nick Leddy (3 assists), Lucas Raymond (2 assists) and Joe Veleno (1G, 1A), and they head to Pittsburgh to battle the Penguins on Sunday at 12 PM EDT (no TV/97.1 FM/possibly streamed on

In terms of the media’s takes on the game, posted a short recap:

Dylan Larkin scored twice in his return for the Detroit Red Wings, a 5-1 preseason win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Saturday.

The forward scored a power-play goal at 14:33 of the second period to give Detroit a 3-0 lead, and an empty-net goal for the 5-1 final. Larkin, the Red Wings captain, missed 12 games last season and did not play after April 20 because of a neck injury.

Taro Hirose, Chase Pearson and Joe Veleno scored, and Thomas Greiss and Calvin Pickard combined to 19 saves for the Red Wings, who are 3-0-0.

Carson Meyer scored a third-period goal, and Elvis Merzlikins made 18 saves for Columbus.

MLive’s Ansar Khan also posted a recap

Dylan Larkin scored a pair of power-play goals and assisted on another in his preseason debut Saturday, and Nick Leddy picked up three assists as the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1 at Little Caesars Arena.

This was Larkin’s first game since April 20, when he suffered a neck injury on a cross-check from the Dallas Stars’ Jamie Benn and missed the final eight games of the season.

Taro Hirose and Joe Veleno each had a goal and an assist while Chase Pearson also scored for Detroit, which improved to 3-0 in the exhibition season. Lucas Raymond contributed a pair of assists, giving him four points (goal, three assists) in two games.

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan focused on Larkin’s return in his recap

Larkin referenced Will Ferrrell’s classic character Ricky Bobby, in “Talledega Nights,” as to how Larkin’s return went.

“The first period was rough, I was feeling like I was Ricky Bobby in his first race back after his car crash,” Larkin said. “It felt like everything was going fast and I wasn’t.

“I felt a little comfortable (as the game progressed) and it was nice to get on the good side of good plays, and the power play was clicking. I felt better.”

Coach Jeff Blashill also felt Larkin progressed nicely as the game went along, especially absorbing contact.”He got more comfortable, and that’s the reason we play exhibition games, especially for a guy like him, it’s his first action coming off the injury,” Blashill said. “As the game went along he got a little more comfortable and he tried to initiate contact early, and as the game went along he was willing to take more contact and ultimately that’s the way he’s going to have to play to be successful. It was good to get him in.”

Said Larkin: “Our first couple of shifts, I had six or seven turnovers and I just figured I might as well do something. I was waiting to get hit and I expected to get hit, and finally I decided I’m going to go hit someone, get a little frustration out.”

As did Detroit Hockey Now’s Bob Duff

For his own peace of mind, Dylan Larkin was actually looking forward to being on the end of some physical punishment. It was reassuring. Feeling contact again was vital. It was playing a role in helping him get past any psychological blocks. Any athlete coming back from a serious injury can often be harboring concerns in the back of their minds during their first game back. Until they engage in the heat of game action, they’re never 100% certain they are past their ailment.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Larkin frankly admitted. “I’m not going to lie to you guys. I was nervous today, I had jitters to play. I was excited. But as I was doing my warmup and on the ice warming up and, when the puck dropped, I was nervous.

“Not to get injured. Just to play hockey. It had been a long road. I couldn’t believe already that much time had gone by and I was playing hockey again. It was good to settle in. As the game went along, I felt more comfortable. I felt like my vision came back and got some touches.

“My hands felt better, my timing, and I hope it continues.”

The Free Press’s Helene St. James took note of Nick Leddy’s presence on the Wings’ blueline…

Nick Leddy, a veteran defenseman general manager Steve Yzerman acquired via trade in July, piled up three assists. He set up Barber for the shot that Hirose deflected, and found Pearson on his goal. Leddy made a case for a spot on a power play unit when he sent the puck to Larkin late in the second period; Larkin drove to the net and made it 3-0. Leddy, 30, is a smooth skater who strengthens the top-four defensive corps, and his ability to make plays with the puck should help the offense.

“He made some great plays, some plays where I was either on the ice or on the bench and said, wow.,” Larkin said. “I’ve played against him for a while and his skating is elite, and that’s such a weapon to have on your back end. It’s pretty amazing to see how effortless he makes it look, chasing down guys, or guys chasing him down. He’s going to be a huge weapon.”

And’s Ethan Sears noted the following in his “Three Takeaways“:

Lucas Raymond has a shot at making the roster, of course, but it’s worth noting here that he impressed as well. Raymond had two assists, including a pass up the seam on Larkin’s goal that drew praise from the captain.

“He’s got a swagger to his game,” Larkin said. “He’s smart. He’s a smart, headsy hockey player. He waits and waits and then it’s right on your tape.”

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill noted that, although Columbus played a watered-down lineup on its penalty kill, Raymond did all he could to make an impression on the power play.

“He’s a guy who I ultimately think could be a really, really good power play player,” Blashill said. “… All he can do is face the challenges that he’s facing, and so far he’s done a good job.”

As a whole, the Red Wings played a lineup consisting mostly of players who could start the year in Grand Rapids, with the exception of their top forward lines and pairings. As the 5-1 scoreline implies, that did little to slow Detroit down.

Statistics: Here are the Game Summary and Event Summary:


Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 10-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted a 12-image gallery.

Highlights: Sportsnet posted an 8:34 highlight clip:

AWood40 also posted a highlight clip:

Post-game: Joe Veleno spoke with Bally Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson after the game..

And the Free Press posted videos of Dylan Larkin and coach Jeff Blashill speaking with the media…

With the Red Wings offering a short version of both Larkin and Blashill’s remarks:

Published by

George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.