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Examining Dylan Larkin’s First Eleven Games

The ten-game mark has come and gone for all 30 NHL teams. For many rookies looking to prove their worth, it is a very important time for both the player and management in making sure the talent is truly ready to play in arguably the greatest hockey league talent-wise in the world.

Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Noah Hanifin, Nikolaj Ehlers, Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann were just a few of many around the league under this evaluation and have all earned their spots for the season. This group includes 19-year old Dylan Larkin.

Mentioned as a Calder candidate by NBC analyst Pierre McGuire at the start of the season, Larkin has incredibly surpassed any doubt of settling in, scoring three goals and eight points in Detroit’s first eleven, tying for 4th in rookie scoring with the Jets’ Ehlers.

But it’s not just the point production that’s made Larkin earn his spot.

Scoring is always helpful to a team that has struggled to put the puck in the net (2.55 GF, 17th in league), but out of the first eleven games Larkin’s hockey sense and speed have shined the brightest, looking like arguably the best player on the ice more often than not.

Larkin is first on the team in shot attempts for with 135 on a team that is uncharacteristically near the bottom in shot attempts for percentage in close games with a 44% mark. His CorsiRel%(shot attempts for a team when player is on the ice) is also +6.6, one behind the leader among forwards in Gustav Nyquist at a +9.3 rate.

Through his first three, he totaled a goal and three assists. Through this recent seven game rut, Larkin has been held pointless in four of the seven with the Wings scoring one goal four times and three just once in a 5-3 loss. They have given up three goals in all but one game where they came back from an 0-2 deficit in Vancouver, their only win in the span. They scored five in Ottawa last night, seeming to break through in more ways than one with a victory and two much needed points.

The team has been challenged shot-wise all season as well, with just 25.2 shots per game, dead last in the NHL. Without Larkin, that could be even lower. Through eleven contests overall, the Waterford native other than his scoring has shown some of that effortless skating stride, puck protection, and hockey sense that has proved him to be worthy of donning the Wings’ sweater past the ten game mark and beyond.



That was opening night, his first taste of regular season action. The transitional game has hurt the Red Wings on this 2-5-1 stretch, and keeping Larkin on will certainly help as the team gets healthier and back on track. Larkin’s neutral zone speed and patience with the puck are highlighted here, as it could have easily been a dump and chase type of play. Instead, the 19-year old goes to work and eventually the team gets rewarded.


That’s just forecheck and knowing where teammates are. Having young legs helps the cause for his older linemate Henrik Zetterberg, who has looked like a completely different player with the Waterford native on his wing. He is currently tied for 4th in league scoring with three goals and 14 points.

These two would hook up in a game against the team that knocked Detroit out of the playoffs a six months ago as well with #71 making things happen.

First, with aforementioned forecheck.

The Wings would keep possession in the Tampa Bay end for the next thirty seconds starting with this play, and would finish in style.

The patience trait has been a strength of Larkin with the puck on his stick, making a similar play to Zetterberg in Carolina the game before leading him on with a soft dish along the wall that led to another goal.


Being able to know where your teammates are helps at high speed as well. Larkin enters the zone on this play and delivers a sweet off-the-boards pass to his defenseman Brendan Smith. They eventually play catch with Smith scoring the goal, but the key to every power play is the zone entry. Larkin certainly made that portion look easy.


Going back to speed through the neutral zone, watch Larkin go through four Canucks en route to a tough scoring opportunity. He would add a very impressive takeaway as well from Henrik Sedin in the win that was thought to be the turning point in the slide.

Last night in Ottawa seemed to cap off his great start and seemed to collectively help the Wings break the rut with five goals scored in a game for the first time this season. Larkin helped the cause by making defending Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson look quite average not once,

Granted, Karlsson is more well-known for his offensive abilities has his share of mishaps on defense, but it just speaks to the skating ability of Larkin being able to get a step on one of the better skating defensemen in the League.

So far, so good for the hometown kid.

That is just a sample of what Larkin has done through eleven games in his NHL career thus far, one that promises to be a memorable one in the Winged Wheel. The Wings have been known to be patient with their prospects, sometimes maybe too patient, but it has paid off more than a few times.

Larkin looks to be one of the more rare fast-track exceptions.

Main Photo:

Stats courtesy of, ESPN.
Gifs courtesy of GIPHY.


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