Red Wings await further word as Dylan Larkin sits in COVID-19 protocol
Las Vegas — The Red Wings will test their luck in Vegas, but likely without captain Dylan Larkin.
The Wings, who lost the first two games of this four-game road trip, probably won't have Larkin, who was pulled between the second and third periods Tuesday in Dallas because of COVID-19 protocol.
The Wings had a day off Wednesday in Vegas, but left Larkin behind in Dallas to quarantine. He is unable to travel with the team.
Coach Jeff Blashill wasn't available to the media Wednesday. He said Tuesday night he wasn't sure what the next steps were for Larkin.
"Obviously, it was in the middle of the game, which is tough,” said Blashill, of the notification from the league (Larkin scored a power play goal in the second period). “We got to figure out exactly where everything stands .... and figure out what we’re going to do for Thursday.”
Larkin was tested — PCR nasal swab — Tuesday morning, with the Wings notified by league officials later in the evening.
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According to the NHL's COVID protocol regulations, "fully vaccinated players shall be subject to laboratory-based or Point of Care (POC) RT-PCR testing at least every 72 hours, with results available within 24 hours of collection.”
A positive result means the player must remain in isolation, and with no exercising or training with other team personnel for the duration of the isolation.
Larkin could be out as many as 10 days after the original symptoms appeared.
At least 24 hours must pass since the player last had a fever and symptoms (such as cough, shortness of breath) must display improvement.
The club physician, or infectious disease expert, and any other treating physician providing care to the individual, must then medically clear the player.
It's been a difficult last couple weeks for Larkin, who missed three games due to a family emergency before returning Nov. 7.
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The Wings would likely recall a forward from Grand Rapids to replace Larkin. Jonatan Berggren, Taro HIrose and Chase Pearson would be potential call-ups from the Griffins.
Tuesday's 5-2 loss to the Stars took a back seat to the Larkin news, but the game was pocked by more Red Wings' issues defensively.
Dallas rushed to a 3-0 lead, the Wings rallied behind goals from Larkin and Filip Zadina, but the Stars salted things away in the third period.
"We have to get better defensively," said Blashill, a familiar refrain. "That's the reality of it. We're a pretty good team when we have the puck and hounding and playing offense.
"We're not a good enough team defensively right now. I spoke about that the other night and it's not because guys don't want to do it, but we have to get better defensively."
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Blashill singled out the slot coverage — an area the Stars capitalized on — as an area the Wings notably need to improve.
"Certainly, our defensive zone coverage isn’t close to good enough, so that’s one area for sure that has to get way better," Blashill said. "Our slot coverage has been terrible, so that has to get way better. We’ve given up some easy chances out of our offensive zone play back into our own end off rushes.”
The Wings have lost five of their last six games on the road.
Blashill touched upon the need to be better defensively, again, to help their chances on the road.
“When you give up four goals, plus the empty-netter, it’s hard to win that way,” Blashill said. “If we want to win on the road, to win consistently, if we want to win when maybe we don’t score enough goals, we have to get better defensively.”
Red Wings at Golden Knights
►Faceoff: 10 Thursday, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
►Outlook: Vegas (9-7-0) has been blitzed with key injuries all season long, and has struggled to gain any traction. ... The Golden Knights acquired C Jack Eichel from Buffalo two weeks ago, but Eichel (neck surgery) is about three months away from returning. ... Vegas just saw RW Mark Stone (five assists in four games) return to the lineup.