Wings' Dylan Larkin not available to practice, status for Tuesday unclear

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Montreal — The Red Wings might be without another significant piece of the lineup Tuesday when they face the slumping Montreal Canadiens.

Dylan Larkin didn't participate in Monday's practice, and coach Jeff Blashill wouldn't say if Larkin would be available.

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin plays against the Florida Panthers in the third period.

"Maintenance day," said Blashill after Monday's practice, as to why Larkin didn't skate. "Right now, he didn't practice today and I'll leave it at that."

Blashill said he'd have a better idea of Larkin's status after Tuesday's morning skate, and also more on forward Adam Erne, who didn't play in Saturday's 5-4 loss in Toronto.

Erne's injury is undisclosed, but he was visibly in pain after blocking several consecutive shots late in Friday's loss to the Florida Panthers.

Erne skated on his own before Monday's practice, then participated in the workout.

The Wings are already without forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who'll miss his second consecutive game in Canada because of his unvaccinated status. Bertuzzi will return to the lineup Thursday in Boston.

Not having Bertuzzi, and potentially Larkin, would be a big blow to an offensive attack that Monday ranked 11th (3.22 goals per game).

It's defensively, where Blashill has been perplexed.

The Wings ranked 30th allowing 3.44 goals per game.

"We've given up too many goals," Blashill said. "To me, that would be the bigger area of concern. Sometimes it's just the games, and the games can get a little bit wild. The other night (Saturday's 5-4 loss in Toronto), the goals were too easy against and we can't give up easy goals against and win on a consistent basis."

No more talk

Filip Zadina made headlines in 2018 when the Wings selected him sixth overall in the NHL Entry Draft. He vowed to "fill their nets" with pucks," referring to Montreal and Ottawa, two teams that passed on him.

Three years later, only a small segment of Canadiens fans remember his boast. Zadina has moved on as well.

"I said what I said when I was drafted," Zadina said. "I'm going into this game like every game, same mindset. Just do my best, help the team and try to win a game. And score some goals."

Zadina scored his second goal of the season Saturday, a power-play goal one-timer off a feed from Moritz Seider. Zadina hopes that will trigger a streak.

"It was great to score the goal, it gave me a bit more confidence moving forward," Zadina said. "I'm trying to shoot the puck more on net than I did last season. Good things happen when you shoot at the puck, rebound, and create chances for the next shift. So I'm trying to shoot the puck."

Blashill said Zadina has been effective, but hasn't had much luck.

"He's played some games where he's played real good and hasn't been rewarded offensively," Blashill said. "He has to make sure that doesn't get him down and he stays with it. He had a nice power-play goal Saturday and that's an area where he can be a real asset.

"I'm hoping he can get real hot."

Return date

The Red Wings return to Montreal, after losing to the Canadiens, 6-1, on Oct. 23.

It was one of only two victories in the opening 10 games of the season for Montreal (2-8-0).

Pressure is building on the Canadiens. But Blashill wants his team to remember one thing.

"I'd start by saying the last time we played them they kicked our butts," Blashill said. "So that's all I really worry about. They kicked our butts, and that's what sticks in our minds. Our guys aren't watching them play on a consistent basis or watching their record or anything like that. 

"What they have fresh in their minds is we got our butt kicked and we better come in here with a sense of urgency."

Playing at Bell Centre, visiting teams often talk about the need to quell momentum, and Blashill is no different.

"In this building, (Montreal could be) 8-0 or 0-8 and it doesn't matter," Blashill said. "In this building, momentum matters so you better do a good job of not giving up easy chances."

Busy schedule

The Wings embark Tuesday on a stretch of seven games over 12 days. They'll play 11 games (seven on the road) in 19 days.

The challenge will be to stay fresh.

"We'll have to work to balance it, work with our sports science people in terms of where our guys are at from a body standpoint and get enough practice time but where our guys maximize energy in games," Blashill said. "We may have to look at flipping some guys in out (of the lineup) just to make sure guys stay fresh and are at the top of their game."

Twitter: @tkulfan

Red Wings at Canadiens

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Bell Centre, Montreal

► TV/radio: BSD+/97.1

► Outlook: The Canadiens (2-8-0) are struggling, ranking 29th in goals for (1.90) and 28th in goals against (3.40). Nothing is working. On Monday, they sent heralded rookie RW Cole Caufield to the minors after one point (an assist) in 10 games. ... LW Jonathan Drouin (five assists, seven points) leads the offense.

—  Ted Kulfan