Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin issued an early warning about the eventual cost of his team’s early-season trip to Sweden.
“It’ll be good,” Larkin said before the team left for Sweden. “I think we pay the price for it with our schedule after.”
He was confident enough about that prediction that he repeated it seconds later.
“It’ll be cool to see the country but we got two big games and we’ll pay the price for it after,” Larkin said.
Larkin’s prophecy was right on the money.
The Red Wings’ December of Pain isn’t fun but at least we’re not Ottawa. https://t.co/ytSSBBSQq9
— Andy (@ydnA_swimfly) December 24, 2023
He was talking about the condensed nature of Detroit’s December that was necessary after carving out time for the stay in Sweden. When the Red Wings look back on this season, they will undoubtedly conclude that the compression took a toll. Fatigue is clearly a contributing factor to their slump. The goaltending injuries, Larkin’s injury, plus David Perron’s six-game suspension, didn’t help. The Red Wings have used four different goalies this month. Michael Hutchinson played their last game, Alex Lyon is due back soon.
Nothing sums up the ugliness of Detroit’s December more than the fact that Perron has one point in six games thsi month.
Ugly December Record
When they play at Minnesota Wednesday, and then at home Friday and Sunday against Nashville and Boston,they will have played 15 games in December. From Dec. 11-23, they played eight games in 13 days. By contrast, the Red Wings played 12 games in November and will play 13 in January. Their December record thus far is 4-7-1 and two of their wins came in the first games of the month.
These final three games of the month are far from easy games: The Wild have won 10 of their last 13 games. The Predators are 8-4 this month and the Bruins are only eight months removed from the best team regular-season in NHL history.
“We still got to mature as a team,” Lalonde said. “We knew this was going to be a tough stretch. It got compounded with an egregious amount of top guys out. But we still didn’t handle it well. There were points to be had out there. We needed to get those. Everyone in the entire league is going to go through this and the teams that start to funnel themselves towards the top handle these situations. We have three more opportunities to do that.”
The only positive to the challenging schedule is that it tested Patrick Kane’s hip. It held up.
“I’ve been very impressed and surprised with where he’s been physically,” Lalonde said. “It was really unfair to him when he came in we had our top two centers out, we had a plan of limiting his ice time and because we were in these tight games, chasing some of these tight games, he played some back to backs and 20 minutes. A little unfair to him. Probably not the best managing of him. But that’s where our lineup was.”