Dylan Larkin ‘absolutely’ will play in Red Wings’ opener

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit – Dylan Larkin’s injury wasn’t that serious after all.

Larkin was on the ice Thursday when the Red Wings returned to practice, although he was wearing an orange non-contact jersey.

Larkin took part in every drill, didn’t appear hindered in any way, and afterward declared himself fit to play Saturday’s regular-season opener in Nashville.

Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) returned to practice Thursday.

“Absolutely,” said Larkin, about whether he’d be playing in Nashville. “Something happened toward the end of practice (Tuesday), a collision, and I had to come off and have tests and they were all negative.

“I feel great today. The orange jersey was just precautionary. I don’t know what color jersey I’ll be wearing (Friday) but I feel great, nothing holding me back.”

Larkin wouldn’t get into what kind of injury it was that affected him.

“Upper body,” Larkin said. “It didn’t feel good, it wasn’t great. But I feel great now and that’s the main thing.”

Larkin went down hard along the boards in Tuesday’s practice, went straight to the locker room, and didn’t return. The team did not practice Wednesday.

Coach Jeff Blashill was pleased to see Larkin on the ice and is confident Larkin will be in the lineup.

“I saw Dylan yesterday down here (at the arena) and he felt like he was ready to go (for Thursday’s practice) and certainly that followed through.

“He was in a non-contact jersey to be precautionary and not take any extra hits that he didn’t need – and he obviously was able to get through that. It sounds like he told you guys he felt good, so I anticipate him playing on Saturday.”

Having to wait until Saturday to start the regular season is both a luxury and curse for the Wings.

They’ve had a rare opportunity to have four full practices before the season opener but sitting and watching other teams start the season is also aggravating.

“It’s going to be great,” said Larkin of finally getting the season started. “It’s a long wait. Watching the games last night, we’re ready to go. We have one more day to really tune in and get ready and we’ll be ready to go against Nashville.”

Athanasiou update

While the news on Larkin was positive, the Wings are still waiting to get a clear answer on Andreas Athanasiou’s availability.

The forward has practiced sparingly after slamming into the boards in one of the Wings’ final exhibition games.

Blashill hopes Athanasiou can practice Friday. But if he isn’t able to skate, then Athanasiou’s availability for Saturday in Nashville, or Sunday’s home-opener against Dallas, becomes doubtful.

“I anticipate I’ll know more (Friday); we’re hoping he practices,” Blashill said. “If he practices, it puts him in a position to play Saturday.”

Blashill would not be specific about Athanasiou’s condition, only saying it’s a “nagging” injury.

“Is it something that’ll linger? I don’t know that,” Blashill said. “It’s pain management a little bit. He went into the boards in the preseason game and it’s kind of bothered him ever since. Hopefully he gets to where he gets good and it doesn’t nag him anymore.”

Lineup battle

Blashill wouldn’t say Dennis Cholowski has clinched a spot on the third defensive pairing with Trevor Daley, but it sounds like Cholowski has the lead over Madison Bowey.

“We’ll make that decision Saturday,” Blashill said. “We film all our practices and analyze who makes the best reads in different situations, 5-on-5 or penalty kill.

“Bowey played decent (in the preseason); I don’t know that he played unreal. He didn’t play poorly, he played fine. One thing that guys have to do is play great and don’t let the coaches make a decision. When you play great, you take the decision out of the coach’s hands and you’re demanding you’re in the lineup.

“I wouldn’t say Dennis played unbelievable, but he played real well and real consistent, so he started to take the decision out of my hands.”


Twitter: @tkulfan