Red Wings' Dylan Larkin focuses on win streak, not points streak

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The losing streak continues for the Red Wings, but there was one streak that came to an end after Wednesday’s loss to Calgary.

Dylan Larkin’s streak of 14 consecutive games with a point ended. The Flames were able to keep Larkin off the scoresheet, which hasn’t been an easy to do.

Red Wings center Dylan Larkin's streak of 14 consecutive games with a point ended Wednesday night against the Calgary Flames.

Larkin, though, is focused on putting together a win streak, rather than anything individually.

With the Wings in the midst of a six-game winless streak, and owning only one victory in 11 games, getting into the win column is more significance these days.

“There’s more important things; there are more games and a new opportunity for a new streak. Hopefully it’s a win streak for our team,” said Larkin, who had 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) during that 14-game span, after Thursday's practice. “The bigger picture here is we have to get back on track and winning. I guess it’s nice for it to kind of go away, in a sense.

“I need to get back to playing 200-foot games. Last night (Wednesday against Calgary) that wasn’t there and I got outplayed by their top line.”

Though the Wings have struggled as a team during Larkin’s streak, coach Jeff Blashill felt Larkin was playing the type of two-way game that is necessary for the team to win.

“What I liked about it was although the record doesn’t reflect the wins, he played winning hockey during that stretch,” Blashill said. “He did the things needed to do to push us to win a hockey game. We didn’t win them, I get it, but it wasn’t a thing of he was getting points and playing bad hockey.

“He was playing real good hockey.”

Many Wings fans were irate Wednesday evening when Larkin wasn’t included in the original lineup of the Atlantic Division headed to the All-Star Game later this month. Goaltender Jimmy Howard is the Red Wings’ representative, at this point.

NHL fans can still vote Larkin in during a vote currently taking place. Larkin would consider it an honor to return and play in the game, but also wouldn’t having the time off that weekend.

“I’m going to start (voting) for (Boston’s Patrice) Bergeron, or someone,” Larkin said with a large smile. “It wouldn’t be bad to have the nine days (off).

“It’s a fun weekend, celebrating hockey and being around the best players in the world. Either way it’s an honor, to be recognized with that group, it would be fun to go with Howie, as well, and his two young boys, and see how excited they are. They’re always around the rink, and they’ll be fired up, and it would be cool to be with them.

“(But) it’s a long season and we’ve had some tough stretches of games. We’re going through one now, eight games in 16 days before the break, so it does get pretty tough with the travel.

“It’ll help to recharge the batteries one way or another.”

Mantha returning

After missing the last 15 games, forward Anthony Mantha will return to the lineup Friday against Nashville.

Mantha suffered ligament damage near his knuckle during a fight Dec. 2 with Colorado’s Patrik Nemeth.

Doctors cleared Mantha on Wednesday night, and he skated on a line Thursday with Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek.

“I can’t wait to be back,” Mantha said. “They are two great players, they can pass the puck like nobody else in the league. You just have to find a free spot (on the ice). Hopefully I can fit in.”

More: 'I’m not going to stop fighting': Red Wings' Mantha nears return but won't change

Blashill wants to see Mantha return to the level he was at before he was hurt, which was some of the best hockey Mantha had played this season.

“He got off to a rough start, he wasn’t very good early, he knew that,” Blashill said. “He had a chance to play with Larkin (Oct. 28) and did a real good job (and Mantha’s season took off).

“He was playing excellent before he got injured. He was doing things he needs to do to be successful.”

Howard excited

Howard is excited about his All-Star recognition, but maybe not more so than young sons James and Henry, who are seven and four.

The two youngsters are becoming hardcore hockey fans and are relishing the chance to meet their favorite players.

“Obviously Larks (Larkin) is their favorite, but also Auston Matthews, Patrick Kane, Connor McDavid,” Howard said. “James is learning players from playing video games, NHL ’19, so they’re both looking forward to it.

“It’s special now. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Predators at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM

Outlook: Nashville (24-15-2, 50 points) has won two consecutive games, after going through a slump. ... Injuries temporarily stalled the Predators, but the core of C Ryan Johansen (28 assists, 35 points), D Roman Josi (22 assists, 29 points) and G Pekka Rinne (2.26 GAA, .920 SVS) is as good as any in the NHL.

Twitter @tkulfan