Dylan Larkin's recovery ahead of schedule; could return for Wings' next game

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Detroit center Dylan Larkin and Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly battle for the puck in the first period last week.

Detroit — Dylan Larkin’s recovery is apparently going faster than expected.

So fast, Larkin could be in the lineup Thursday when the Red Wings play Vegas at Little Caesars Arena.

Larkin strained an oblique muscle in overtime of Friday’s victory over Toronto. Originally expected to miss a week or two to recover, Larkin had a good off-ice workout Tuesday as the Red Wings returned to practice after two days off, and if all goes well Wednesday on the ice — Larkin is planning to practice — coach Jeff Blashill said Larkin would play against the Golden Knights.

More: Michael Rasmussen's time with Griffins brief but 'good' for him

“I felt it right away and I knew it wasn’t great,” Larkin said of the original injury. “I was hoping it would go away, like a cramp, that’s how it kind of felt like, but it didn’t. It took a couple of days to settle down and after that, it’s been nothing but progress.”

Larkin was chasing down Toronto’s Mitch Marner when Larkin felt a muscle pull in his side,

“It was just skating and a hard explosive movement, and I felt it right away,” Larkin said. “It was a tough couple of days after Friday night, but I’ve been feeling better day by day and got a workout in today. Everything went good.

“I’m expecting to hit the ice (Wednesday) and we’ll see how it goes from there.”

Blashill said the training staff kept Larkin off the ice Tuesday to prevent any sort of re-aggravation.

More: Jeff Blashill likes maturity Red Wings showed in securing victory

But the way Larkin was feeling, and his positive workout off the ice, made everyone around the Wings believe Larkin’s return will be much sooner than later.

“Feel better about it today certainly than we did Saturday when he wasn’t able to play,” Blashill said.

Slumping Abdelkader

Forward Justin Abdelkader has five goals on the season and hasn’t scored a goal in 23 games, not the type of production Abdekader was able to put up earlier in his career.

But those days, Abdelkader, 31, was playing in a different sort of a lineup.

“When he scored 20, he was playing with Hank (Zetterberg) or Pavel (Datsyuk),” Blashill said. “Sometimes the production hasn’t been as high when he’s played with Dylan but he’s been a big piece of why we were able to produce offense — because he’s been standing net-front and in the goalie’s eyes all time.

“Sometimes those guys don’t get rewarded with points. He’s done an excellent job of saying ‘I’ll do whatever it takes to help this team win’.

"He’s really shown great leadership that way.”

Odd schedule

The Wings are in the midst of a four-day break between games — after having played back-to-back, after having had nine days off.

The uneven nature of the scheduling has taken a bit getting used to.

“It’s been a little strange,” defenseman Mike Green said. “But after the little bit of rest we responded well (last weekend). These next few days are going to be critical between our game Thursday to make sure we stay in the mental state we need to continue this momentum we’ve built up.”

Ice chips

While the news regarding Larkin was extremely positive, forward Tyler Bertuzzi (upper body) didn’t skate Tuesday and Blashill isn’t counting on Bertuzzi returning before early next week. Bertuzzi missed the two games last weekend.

Defenseman Trevor Daley (foot) practiced Tuesday, and Blashill is optimistic Daley could be available this weekend.

… The Wings have won three consecutive games, and a chance Thursday to match the four-game streak they haven’t had since November.

“We were playing real good hockey and just weren’t closing it out, and now we are and our confidence is high,” Larkin said. “Everyone is chipping in and playing hard. It’s fun right now and something we need to keep going.”

… Blashill said forward Michael Rasmussen will return from Grand Rapids, where Rasmussen is currently on a conditioning stint, after the Griffins’ game Wednesday’s.


Twitter: @tkulfan