Abel to Yzerman

Abel to Yzerman

"A Noticeable Difference In The Red Wings This Season"

01/25/2021 at 9:36am EST

from Emily Kaplan of ESPN,

In August, Larkin said a handful of players returned to Detroit for optional practices, and by September, there were even more. Then came free agency in October, and Yzerman signed five veteran players -- goalie Thomas Greiss, forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and Bobby Ryan, defensemen Jon Merrill and Troy Stecher -- then traded for longtime New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal.

Larkin was on a text chain with his two linemates, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi. "It was just like, another great player, another great player," Larkin says. "And then Ty texted: Are the Red Wings a wagon now?"

Detroit is probably a bit away from wagon status, but there's a noticeable difference in the Red Wings this season. They split their first four games, but saw momentum halted with five players on the COVID-19 protocol list, and held out of action this weekend in Chicago (where they lost both games). Even still, there's a new swagger to the Red Wings. Detroit's goaltending is far improved (Jonathan Bernier and Greiss have combined for a .904 save percentage, a huge improvement on last season's .886 as a team) and there's more resolve (after being shut out in their opener, Detroit stormed back for a 4-2 win over a talented Hurricanes team in Game 2).

"The blue line -- those guys are always screaming for the puck, they want the puck," Larkin says. "They come to the bench, and they're letting me know, and they're letting guys know that we gotta talk. It makes everyone's life easier and I think that's something we were really missing last year. Those veteran guys who came from other teams have just been emphasizing talking and wanting the puck, and it's made a huge difference."

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