Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill says Detroit will need "elite" goaltending from both Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Detroit — Dylan Larkin has been around some fine centers already in his young NHL career.
Larkin has been a teammate of both Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, so he’s seen up close what goes into being a complete, two-way center.
But going outside the Red Wings’ sphere, analyzing Boston’s Patrice Bergeron would be a good thing, too.
Bergeron, 32, is a four-time winner of the Selke Trophy (best defensive forward), but this season might add the Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player) to his collection.
“I just think Bergeron’s got to be one of the best players in the league right now,” Red Wings coach Jeff Bashill said. “He plays a two-way game, never gets scored on and produces a lot of offense.
“That’s why that team is as good as they are. We talk about it, that’s what Zetterberg and Datsyuk did here for years.”
Bergeron entered Wednesday’s game with 44 points (22 goals, 22 assists) in 45 games with a plus-24 plus-minus rating.
Since 2010-11 Bergeron’s 58.9 percent faceoffs-won percentage is best in the NHL — and his plus-167 plus-minus rating is second to linemate Brad Marchand.
“When you have centermen that are as complete as those guys have been in their careers, and as good as Bergeron is right now, that’s big-time winning hockey,” Blashill said “Larks and I talked about that, that Bergeron is a great example of a guy to really emulate, about how he doesn’t give up anything but creates a ton.
“It’s a hard thing to do, but that’s why that team is winning as much as they are, when you have a centerman who plays a complete game. That’s how you win games.”
Larkin talked about Bergeron’s strengths after Tuesday’s morning skate, and the different areas that stand out when Larkin watches the veteran Bruin play.
“He’s great on faceoffs and his positioning is probably one of the best of any center in the NHL,” Larkin said. “You don’t notice him, but it seems he never stops skating the entire shift, he’s always moving, and he’s always in the right spot.
“I’m sure his wingers love playing with him because he makes players around him better.”
Howard back in
Goaltender Jimmy Howard earned the start Tuesday against Boston after watching Petr Mrazek get the start five of the last six games.
And the one game Howard played, he had the shortest start of his career, allowing three goals in nine shots in 8 minutes 47 seconds against Chicago.
Blashill, though, isn’t concerned about Howard’s slump.
“Sometimes it’s like any player, not every player scores every night,” Blashill said. “Sometimes you get in that groove one way, or another.
“He’s had a chance to go to work with Jeff Salajko (Red Wings’ goaltending coach). They (Howard, Mrazek) both work hard at their games. I don’s see anything from a technical standpoint that’ll preclude him from having success.
“I have a belief in both of them. We’re going to need both to be real good here down the stretch.”
Blashill said forward Darren Helm (lower body) was a game-time decision.
…The Red Wings have played better lately, but still have an uphill climb in the standings.
“There’s a sense of urgency,” Larkin said. “We know the situation we’re in and we’ve been here last year, and we don’t want the same result (missing the playoffs).”