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Dylan Larkin talks about an ugly Red Wings' loss and his third period fight The Detroit News

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Detroit – So, who was Dylan Larkin glaring at on the bench the other night when he skated off the ice?

Social media has been abuzz with that since Tuesday’s 8-1 loss against Montreal. Larkin skated off the ice with about five minutes left after getting into a fight with the Canadiens’ Brett Kulak.

Just after reaching the bench, and approaching the hallway to the locker room, Larkin slammed his helmet and looked down the Wings’ bench.

On Friday, Larkin insisted there was nothing to the incident.

“It was just frustration,” said Larkin, who returned to practice after missing Thursday because of soreness. “Guys were there, so I was looking at the bench, but I wasn’t staring anybody down in particular. I was in the moment and frustrated with the way things were going and I just overreacted.

“There was no staring down anyone.”

Larkin indicated missing Thursday’s practice was essentially a “maintenance day” and he would be good to go Saturday when the Red Wings play Arizona.

The game against the Coyotes will be an opportunity for the Wings to erase the debacle against Montreal, as it has been hovering in the locker room.

Larkin said the nature of the loss to Montreal was an embarrassment to the entire city.

“Every guy in here recognizes we’re all part of the community and spend time, or hear from, not only the hockey fans but the people in the city, and we want to win for them,” Larkin said. “Everyone loves the Red Wings here (in Michigan) and everyone loves hockey in Detroit and the state of Michigan, and we all know we need to be better.

“The city and the state deserve a team that gives them a sense of pride, and what we had against Montreal wasn’t nearly enough.”

Larkin is taking on a growing leadership role on this team. If the need arises soon to address a situation, or during or after a game like Montreal where the Wings’ competitiveness and work ethic were lacking, Larkin is comfortable approaching teammates.

“There’s a time and place for everything,” Larkin said. “I’m the kind of person that I want to play hockey and I want to play well and win. Everyone in here wants to win and is competitive and wants to play well, and if there’s a time and place to say something I have no problem saying it.”

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The right path?

General manager Ken Holland said Monday after the trade deadline passed that he was pleased with the job coach Jeff Blashill was doing, particularly with the development of the young players on the roster.

Holland stopped short of saying he’d likely extend Blashill’s contract – Blashill’s deal concludes after this season – but gave every indication Blashill would return next season.

Now, this was a day before the 8-1 loss to Montreal, but still, Blashill appears to be a good bet to return as long as this final month of the season doesn’t go completely off the rails.

Holland pointed out that Blashill has learned and grown over the four years he has coached the Wings – and Blashill agreed Friday, when asked about Holland’s remarks.

“That’s the approach I take – getting better every single day,” Blashill said. “You know situations, you learn from experience, all those things matter. He has told me before he thinks I’ve done a good job with this group, and when you’re told you’re headed in the right path, it’s a good thing.”

Mentally tough

Tuesday was only the 19th game that defeneman Luke Witkowski played in this season.

Witkowski played at forward against Montreal, and his ability to also play defense, said Blashill, along with his energy and physicality, are what makes him vital to the Wings.

“It’s a hard mental grind,” said Blashill. “It’s hard when you don’t see your name on the lineup sheet enough, it’s a hard mental grind and you’re practicing and you’re trying to get better but there’s no real light at the end of the tunnel. But he’s done a pretty good job of it.

“There have been moments when he’s dipped and when we’ve talked and he’s responded.

“He’s a real good person and he’s a heck of a teammate.”

Lineup update

Larkin, forward Thomas Vanek (hip flexor), and defensemen Mike Green (ill) and Trevor Daley (back) all returned to practice Friday, but only Larkin and Green appear ready to play against Arizona.

Blashill thinks Daley and Vanek could play Tuesday in Colorado.

Missing Friday was forward Anthony Mantha, who had the flu-like symptoms that have gone through the Red Wings’ locker room in recent days.

Blashill wasn’t sure about Mantha’s availability for Saturday’s game.

Red Wings at Coyotes

Faceoff: 8 p.m. Saturday, at Gila River Arena, Glendale, Ariz.

TV/radio: FSD Plus/97.1 FM

Outlook: The Coyotes (31-28-5) are on the cusp of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference, having won five consecutive games and eight of their last 10 (8-2-0). … Arizona has overcome numerous injuries and is paced by C Clayton Keller (41 points), D Oliver Ekman-Larsson (25 assists) and G Darcy Kuemper (.917 SVS).

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan

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