Maybe a year from now the Red Wings will be where the Arizona Coyotes are now.
And judging where the Coyotes are, the Wings would probably be happy with that. They’d take it.
The resurgent Coyotes, who’ve been rebuilding, seemingly, for years now, defeated the Wings 3-1 on Saturday.
After many stops and starts the Coyotes might finally have this rebuilding stuff down pat.
The win was Arizona’s sixth in a row. The Coyotes (32-28-5) have won nine of the past 11, and with Saturday’s victory moved into the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
This despite losing over 350 man-games to injury, and a roster in constant flux. But the core of this Coyotes team has some high-end young talent.
A year ago, arguably, they might have been where the Red Wings are now.
“They’ve (the Wings) got high-end talent,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said after the morning skate. “They’re fast. They’re at a point where people want to impress people. We were like that last year (at this time).”
Not much is going right for the Wings (23-33-9), who are winless in seven games (0-5-2).
They were outshot 44-23, didn’t get much going offensively for long stretches, and despite a better effort than Tuesday’s ugly loss, it still wasn’t good enough to win.
Larkin scored with one second left on the power play at 7:35 of the second period. Anthony Mantha got the puck to Niklas Kronwall near the top of the slot, and Kronwall slapped a pass to Larkin driving to the net. Larkin redirected the puck past goalie Darcy Kuemper for his 27th goal.
Larkin keeps rolling
That’s 27 goals now for Larkin, adding to his career high, and with 62 points, Larkin is one shy of tying his career high of 63 last season. Larkin, though, won’t be happy with Saturday’s minus-3 plus-minus rating.
Mantha missed Friday’s practice because of the flu and the Wings weren’t sure if he would play. The team recalled forward Christoffer Ehn on an emergency basis, but he wasn’t needed, as Mantha was good enough to play. Mantha played 17:21, was minus-2, and had 1 shot on net.
Josh Archibald opened the scoring with his 10th goal, at 5:58 of the first period. Archibald took a pass from Oliver Ekman-Larsson down the right wing, and unleashed a shot from the top of the circle that might have deflected off Niklas Kronwall and knuckleballed past Jimmy Howard. Ekman-Larsson made it 2-0 later in the period. Vinnie Hinostroza found Ekman-Larsson trailing on a rush near the left dot. Ekman-Larsson one-timed a shot that bounced off Howard and into the top corner. Hinostroza made it 3-1 at 4:37 of the third period. Howard made a diving save on Richard Panik to open the sequence, then with both teams scrambling, Tyler Bertuzzi stopped Hinostroza’s shot. Hinostroza got the puck again — the horn went off accidentally, confusing things — and wristed a shot for his 11th goal.
Battle for the bottom
Ottawa has the NHL’s worst record with 49 points. Detroit is next with 55 points, followed by Los Angeles with 56, Anaheim with 57, and New Jersey with 58. The Wings’ odds of getting the No. 1 pick overall are improving with every defeat.
Howard was pulled his last three starts but was awfully good against the Coyotes with 41 saves. But Howard couldn’t best Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper, who won his seventh consecutive start, stopping 23 shots. As the numbers would indicate, though, Howard had to face the much tougher chances.
In his third NHL game, Red Wings rookie Filip Zadina played 15:30 with one shot on net and one blocked shot. Zadina is scoreless through three games. Of the three games thus far, the Montreal game was arguably Zadina’s best. Like most Wings against Arizona, Zadina wasn’t much of an offensive threat.
The Wings visit Denver Tuesday to conclude this two-game trip (9 p.m./Fox Sports Detroit/97.1). The Avalanche defeated the Wings 1-0 earlier this season.