Fans can vote Larkin into All-Star Game event

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Dylan Larkin

Brooklyn, New York – Dylan Larkin will play in Sunday’s NHL All-Star Game.

That was determined weeks ago.

But to see Larkin in the All-Star Game Skill Challenge – specifically the breakaway challenge – it’s up to the fans.

The NHL said Monday a fan vote will determine the sixth participant in the breakaway challenge Saturday (7 p.m. / NBC Sports Network, CBC).

Sunday’s All-Star Game begins at 5 p.m. (NBC / NBC Sports Network / CBC).

Teammates are simply pleased that Larkin is being recognized for his outstanding rookie season.

“He just keeps going, keeps going, he’s a good player,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “He works hard.”

Fans can vote for Larkin, Colorado’s Matt Duchesne or Columbus’ Brandon Saad – by tweeting #NHLBreakawayLarkin, #NHLBreakawayDuchesne or #NHLBreakawaySaad beginning Tuesday at noon ET. Votes will be counted until Thursday at 5 p.m.

The All-Star team captains – the East’s Jaromir Jagr (Florida) and Alex Ovechkin (Washington) and the West’s Patrick Kane (Chicago) and John Scott (Arizona) – select the first five players in the breakaway challenge and also select the participants in each of the skill challenge events.

The NHL is encouraging “style, creativity, and flair” in the breakaway challenge and normal penalty shot rules will not be applied.

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Fans will vote for the winner of the breakaway challenge via Twitter, voting for their favorite player using the hashtag of that player’s name.

All 44 players picked for the All-Star Game take part in at least one event (fastest skater, accuracy shooting, skills challenge relay, hardest shot, NHL shootout).

Coach Jeff Blashill has been impressed with Larkin’s competitiveness.

“He’s got that competitive spirit for sure,” Blashill said. “He certainly has the ability, in games, to turn it on, to bring it up another level.”

Keep it simple  

As poor as the Red Wings have played at home recently, they’ve been outstanding on the road.

The Red Wings have won only once in their last eight home games (1-5-2). But they completed a six-game road trip to begin January with a 5-1-0 record and played with a confidence that wasn’t apparent in two home losses last week.

“Maybe we keep it simpler on the road,” Zetterberg said. “When we come home and play, maybe we want to do a little bit too much instead of keeping it simple and getting pucks deep.

“Most of the time, when we get pucks deep, we’re creating some chances and we spend time in their zone.”

That formula hasn’t been the first time that’s occurred for a hockey team – playing a more conservative game on the road, and attempting to make highlight-reel goals at home.

“On the road we keep it a lot more simple,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “We play from the back end on out. Maybe we play a little bit more of a complete game on the road.

“Sometimes when you’re at home, you want to give your fans a show and that can hurt you.”

Ice chips

Blashill wouldn’t commit to a lineup after Monday’s morning skate, saying several players were hurting and he wasn’t sure of their availability.

Forward Eric Tangradi and defenseman Nick Jensen, both called up from Grand Rapids Sunday, were available if needed.

… Blashill had Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Larkin on a line together for a brief time Saturday but wouldn’t commit to putting the three together again, saying “there’s a number of circumstances” that go into a line combination.

Blashill said injuries played a big part in putting different line combinations in recent games.

… With the way the schedule worked out, the Red Wings are off for the All-Star break beginning Tuesday – and don’t have to return to practice until Monday afternoon.