Winnipeg, Manitoba — It appears that goaltender Jimmy Howard will be headed to San Jose for the All-Star Game alone.
Barring any unforseen changes to the lineup, the Wings will only be represented by Howard for the All-Star weekend, with the game January 26, as Dylan Larkin was not named Friday among the All-Star Last Men named by a fans’ vote.
Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner was named from the Atlantic Division.
Also added were Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog (Central), Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang (Metropolitan) and Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl (Pacific).
More than 11.5 million votes were cast, the league announced, over the seven-day period.
Averaging nearly a point per game – 41 points in 45 games entering Friday’s game in Winnipeg — Larkin certainly has the statistics to be considered for the All-Star weekend.
But with only 12 roster spots, and the league wanting to have every team represented if possible, many, many top names were excluded.
Larkin, himself, said last week that as great as it would be to be selected for the All-Star Game, the time off away from hockey would be nice, too.
The Wings have their bye week tacked on to the break, so in essence, it’s a nine-day break.
“I’m going to start (voting) for (Boston’s Patrice) Bergeron, or someone,” Larkin joked last week. “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.”
The team (Winnipeg Jets) playing in the rink is awfully good, which makes the MTS Place a tough place to play in, first of all.
But the arena is one of the smaller ones in the NHL, with fans seemingly right on top of the action.
Which makes it doubly difficult for opponents trying to win a game in Winnipeg
“This building is extremely loud,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It’s a great building to play in, it’s fun for our guys to play in. It’s an excellent environment, the fans are into it. It’s one of the best in the league.”
For Darren Helm, the trip to Winnipeg is an annual welcome home for the veteran forward, who grew up just about 15-25 minutes from MTS Place.
“It’s pretty exciting for all of us,” said Helm, listing off a long list of family and friends who will be attending Friday’s game. “There’s a good handful that are still coming tonight. Some friends have season tickets, so they’re taken care of.”
Helm met up with friends the night before.
“It was home cooked meal, deliciious,” Helm said.
Helm was five when the Jets left Winnipeg for Arizona, but remembers the passion of hockey fans in Manitoba.
“They (fans) were upset when they left, and people were talking about getting a team for years and years,” Helm said. “Just hearing it from my family and friends, they were dying for a team. I’m real happy they got one, it’s a good spot for them.”
Mike Green (foot) returned to the Wings’ lineup — Luke Witkowski was a healthy scratch — but Danny DeKeyser (hand) and Michael Rasmussen (lower body) remain day-to-day at this point.
… Once DeKeyser returns, Blashill will need to sit a veteran defenseman, or likely, Filip Hronek returns to Grand Rapids. But Blashill isn’t thinking about those decisions yet.
“You never really talk about decisions until you have to make them, because you don’t know what the forecast is going to look like,” Blashill said. “Who knows what happens between now and then? As DK gets in, those are great decisions to have to make.”
Red Wings at Wild
Faceoff: 8 p.m., Saturday, X-Cel Energy Center.
TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 The Ticket.
Outlook: The Wild (22-18-3, 47 points) have climbed back into a wild card spot in the Western Conference…This will be the first meeting between the teams this season…LW Zach Parise (19 goals, 20 assists) and RW Mikael Granlund (27 assists) lead a balanced offensive attack.