Dylan Larkin was back and Lucas Raymond was offering more evidence that he’ll be sticking around. Those are among the four takeways for the Detroit Red Wings following Saturday’s 5-1 NHL preseason win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Little Caesars Arena
Raymond had two assists against the Blue Jackets, giving him four points in his two preseason games. He posted three shots on goal in 16:36 of playing time. Blashill even gave him 1:32 in penalty kill time.
The Swedish rookie played with Dylan Larkin and Filip Zadina. “Lucas hit some great seam passes, and a couple times I was waiting for them and sure enough, right when I was open most, he hit me, so that was very impressive,” Larkin said. “He’s a headsy player.
Raymond did display a touch of inexperience later in the game, though. On a two-on-one break, he was given an open lane to shoot. Instead, he slowed his pace and tried to beat the defender. Raymond was buried by a backchecking Blue Jacket and the scoring chance was wasted.
“I think that one was on the PK, and they were tracking him from behind,” Blashill said. “Ultimately, he gets in that shooting spot. He’s a really good shooter and he tried to make a play. It’ll be part of the maturation process for him, part of the learning curve.”
Other takeaways from the Red Wings’ third preseason game:
Dylan Larkin Shaking And Baking
Dylan Larkin deserved a victory lap after registering two power play goals, one assist and a Ricky Bobby comparison during a 5-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was his first game back since injuring his neck last season.
“It was nice to be on the good side of some nice players,” Larkin said.
The Red Wings captain hadn’t played since April 20. That’s the night he was sent to the hospital by Dallas captain Jamie Benn’s stick. He played 44 of Detroit’s 56 games. He spent the entire summer rehabilitating the injury. That’s why it is important to the Red Wings that Larkin finds his timing and comfort level.
“It was like Ricky Bobby’s first race back after his car crash,” Dylan Larkin said. “I just felt like everything was going fast. As the second and third started to happen, I felt a little more comfortable and it was nice to be on the good side of some good plays.”
The reference is to the Will Ferrell character from the comedy Talladega Nights
“I had jitters to play,” Larkin said. “I was excited, but when the puck dropped, I was nervous — not to get injured, just to play hockey. It had been a long road and I couldn’t believe already that much time had gone by and I was playing hockey again.”
A healthy, confident Larkin is critical for the Red Wings’ hope for improvement this season. Even before the injury, Larkin was having a sub-par season.
Power Play Comes to Life
After starting the season 0-for-5, the Red Wings’ power play was 3-for-5 against Columbus. Rookie Joe Veleno had one of the power play goals.
The Detroit power play ranked 30th last season at 11%. Here’s what we know about it this:
First, new assistant coach Alex Tanguay seems to be connecting with players.
Second, defenseman Nick Leddy should make a significant difference on offensive zone entry and getting the puck to the net.
Finally, Blashill hasn’t made up his mind who will be on the power play this season. Clearly, he is looking to shake it up going into the season. Another thing Raymond can do if he wants to make the team is prove he can help this power play.
The emphasis of this training camp has been on rookies such as Moritz Seider, Veleno, Raymond, etc. We don’t give much consideration to the other players trying to make the team, such as Livonia native Riley Barber and Taro Hirose, the former Michigan State standout.
Their presence in the organization is primarily to make sure Grand Rapids has a quality team. But they keep reminding the coaches that they might be able to help the Red Wings now. Hirose scored against Columbus and Barber, who has played in the NHL briefly with the Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens, had an assist.
It’s unlikely there’s a path for them to make the roster coming out of training camp, but they could be the call-ups if the team is hit by injuries. Barber had 34 points in 32 games for Grand Rapids last season and Hirose posted 28 points in 29 games. He’s more of a play-maker than a scorer.