Abel to Yzerman

Abel to Yzerman

Dylan Larkin On His Game Last Night And Wings Looking Better But Not Ready For The Playoff

10/03/2021 at 9:10am EDT

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Dylan Larkin was nervous heading into his preseason debut Saturday, not about the painful neck injury he suffered in his previous game more than five months ago, but about returning to competitive action following a long and arduous recovery.

“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.”

Larkin looked in midseason form, scoring two power-play goals, setting up another, and, more importantly, feeling good after dishing out and absorbing several hits in a 5-1 preseason victory over Columbus at Little Caesars Arena.

“It was good to settle in, and as the game went along, I felt more comfortable,” Larkin said. “I felt like my vision came back, my hands felt better, my timing.”


from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

As the regular season nears, that has prompted questions about just how good the Wings might be in 2021-22. Free Press reader Bruce Law wrote to ask, “Helene, look into your crystal ball and give me your best guess/prediction for the Wings in ‘21-22. A playoff team? Will the Wings be like the ‘21 Tigers and give us a better, more consistent day-to-day effort, although fall short of the playoffs? Thanks.”

The Wings haven’t been to the playoffs since 2016; their historic 25-season streak, which included four Stanley Cups, was nipped on March 28, 2017, when they were eliminated after a loss on the road to the Carolina Hurricanes. They’ve endured some rough times since then, with the worst being the misery of 2019-20, when they were 17-49-5 — 29 points worse than the next-to-last team — when the NHL shut down the season because of COVID-19.

They made progress last season, though the enthusiasm in early January's camp had dissipated by the end of the month thanks to having five players in COVID-19 quarantine for two weeks, and losing Tyler Bertuzzi to a back injury.

This season’s camp already hit a sour note when forward Jakub Vrana showed up late and then left after 10 minutes because of a nagging shoulder issue that required surgery. He’s out a minimum of four months, which will take him into January — but since the NHL is shut down almost all of February because of the Olympic Games in Beijing, Vrana is looking at a March return, realistically.

Even without Vrana, the Wings project to be competitive among the top six forwards: His absence creates an opportunity for veteran Bobby Ryan — and 2020 first-round pick Lucas Raymond — to battle Filip Zadina for spots on a line with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi, or Pius Suter and Robby Fabbri.

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