Detroit — There might be more coming on Dylan Larkin’s plate.
The rookie forward, already an impact player in so many game situations, will be seeing penalty killing responsibility, coach Jeff Blashill said.
Especially now with Drew Miller (knee) out for an indefinite period, Larkin is likely to see time in an aspect of the game he has had success in before.
“When Larks went over to the world championships (last spring), he wasn’t on the power play but he killed penalties (for the U.S. team),” Blashill said. “He’s done a lot of it in his career. Larks was touted coming in, after we drafted him, for his 200-foot game and he was a really good penalty killer.”
Larkin joins Riley Sheahan, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm and Luke Glendening as forwards on the penalty kill.
Larkin admits there are things he needs to learn when killing penalties.
“The power play guys are so good,” Larkin said. “You have to be on your toes at all times. You have to be in the lanes and be willing to block shots.”
Blocking shots has been on the increase around the NHL, with players wearing better suited equipment to lessen the pain, leading more players willing to do the often thankless task.
Watching Glendening, one of the better shot blockers on the Red Wings, has helped Larkin.
“You learn the wrong way a few times and you learn how to do it,” Larkin said. “Watching a guy like Glendening, he always has his face out of the way, he seems to always get hit in the pants or shin pads, you have to learn from watching him.
“It’s a will and skill both. There’s definitely a skill, knowing how not to get hurt, what equipment (to wear) and where to place.”
With blocking shots, there’s an added risk of injury. Even with the improved equipment, some parts of the body are left exposed to high-powered slap shots that can break bones, hands or feet.
But Blashill doesn’t believe it’s nearly as bad as it once was.
“The equipment’s better,” Blashill said. “Guys have pads they wear on their skates, they have good shin pads, fuller chest protection, the pants are better, you don’t get hurt as much blocking shots. It’s like goalies. You don’t get hurt as much anymore.
“I’m not saying you can’t take one in the wrong part of the hand, on the ankle, but if you go back 10 years guys block way more shots because it’s not as much of a painful thing as it once was.”
Blashill wants to see Larkin use his speed and quickness to get to the puck, lessening the times he has to block shots, and maybe create offensive rushes.
“His quickness can make him a special penalty killer,” Blashill said. “He has a good brain. I’d like him to actually be a little more active in trying to meet pucks and anticipate where pucks are going, get the stick on puck. That’ll be his maturation process as penalty killer.
“We think long term, he’s going to be a guy who can do both — penalty kill and be on the power play.”
Wait for a chance
Forward Joakim Andersson was a healthy scratch Sunday for the fourth time in the last five games.
“Right now I have other guys ahead of him,” Blashill said. “How does he get himself ahead of those guys? What you do in practice every day matters, but he’ll need more opportunity, that’s the No. 1 thing, and that comes at times when you don’t think it’s going to.
“He has to stay mentally strong and make sure he’s prepared to handle that.”
Andersson has one goal and two assists in 24 games, with a plus-1 rating.
Defenseman Alexey Marchenko was excused from Sunday’s morning skate for personal reasons, but Blashill said Marchenko would return Monday. Marchenko was a healthy scratch Sunday against the Flyers.
“We think we have seven real good NHL defensemen available to us,” Blashill said. “He (Marchenko) happens to be the odd man out right now. But he’ll see plenty of time here in the near future.”
... Teemu Pulkkinen (separated shoulder) returned to the lineup Sunday for his first game since Dec. 1.
... With 17 one-goal victories, the Red Wings have reached that total the quickest in team history (the earliest before was Feb. 2, 2009).