It certainly hasn't been the easiest of years for the Detroit Red Wings.
While there have been improvements on the ice over last season's ghastly 17-49-5 record, it hasn't translated into that much more winning. Currently sitting at 7-16-3 going into tonight's game, the Red Wings have had to deal with COVID-19 complications as well as injuries to top players.
But for captain Dylan Larkin, who has missed the last four games with an upper body injury, there is reason for optimism.
“We knew it was going to be a challenging year with COVID and there were going to be a lot of things thrown at us,” Larkin said. “I think we‘ve had to deal with a lot, probably more so than other teams, having to play through our little stretch where we had guys missing, for whatever reason.
“We played and we handled it, but there is some excitement that guy are coming back and hopefully we can get to where we have our full lineup and see what can happen and get on a little run. That would be really nice.”
The new additions that GM Steve Yzerman made during the offseason have been paying dividends, as newcomers like Bobby Ryan and Vladislav Namestnikov have fit in nicely. Meanwhile, last year's acquisitions in Robby Fabbri and Sam Gagner continue to play well.
“It helps a ton, just the wisdom and how they approach the game,” Larkin said. “Bobby has got a great approach. He’s got a great attitude. He’s someone that loves being a Red Wing. I think the biggest thing with Bobby, too, is he makes plays. He has the puck on his stick and he understands how valuable that is. He’s not looking to just throw it away, he’s looking to make plays and make his linemates better and put them in a better spot for them to make a play than he has.”
Meanwhile, 2018 1st round selection Filip Zadina continues to make strides in his NHL career.
“I think Vladdy’s game has been exponentially better at center, and I think Fabs’ game has been the same whether it’s center or wing,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It allows us potentially to move Fabs to wing and let him play with Larkin and Mantha. Vladdy has been with Zadina and he’s been with Gagner lots, and some with Bobby Ryan as well. We are just trying to find the right combinations.”
– – Quotes via Helene St. James of The Detroit Free Press Link – –