Red Wings leaning on Larkin to bounce back in new arena
LAST SEASON: 33-36-13, 79 points. Seventh place Atlantic Division.
COACH: Jeff Blashill (74-66, third season)
ADDED: D Trevor Daley, F PA Parenteau.
LOST: F Andreas Athanasiou is unsigned and may play in KHL, F Tomas Nosek.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Dylan Larkin. Detroit desperately needs Larkin to play as he did two years ago in his rookie season, not like he did last year. The fast and talented forward was an All-Star in 2016 and finished with 23 goals and 22 assists, good enough for fifth place in Rookie of the Year voting. A sophomore slump hit him and the Red Wings hard, limiting him to 17 goals and 15 assists last season. Unlike most of his teammates, he was relatively healthy and played in 80 games for the second straight year.
OUTLOOK: The Red Wings will have perhaps the NHL’s best facilities at Little Caesars Arena. They also might have one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference again. And if Athanasiou refuses to re-sign as a restricted free agent to play in Russia, the Red Wings will take another hit. Daley bolsters a blue line that needed a puck-moving defenseman. Detroit needs Jimmy Howard to have perhaps his best season in net to help the franchise avoid missing out on the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since it had a five-year drought from 1978-83.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey