Let the Datsyuk-Larkin show begin.
In an effort to produce more offence, Wings head coach Jeff Blashill on Tuesday shook up his lines ahead of their matchup with the St. Louis Blues, slotting potential rookie-of-the-year candidate Dylan Larkin with the magic man himself, Pavel Datsyuk.
“It’s something we’ll look at and see,” Blashill told mlive.com about the shakeup. “We think we’ve defended well. We’ve scored enough to win a good amount of games here in the last little bit but we’d like to score just a little bit more like everybody else, so we want to try those groupings of lines to see if they work, to give us that offence without sacrificing much defensively. So we’ll see.”
The Wings sit second in the Atlantic Division with a 23-14-8 record — just three points behind the Florida Panthers. Much of that success is in part of goaltender Petr Mrazek, who has posted a 5-1-1 and has kept the Wings alive despite not receiving goal support.
Larkin has played alongside Datsyuk in the past and it’s no secret the 19-year-old is elated to get that chance once again.
“He’s so smart, he’s going to find you. I like when he’s talking and teaching me things and getting to know him a little bit more,” he said.
Larkin is third in rookie scoring — behind Chicago’s Artemi Panarin and Arizona’s Max Domi – with 14 goals and 16 assists in 44 games played.
Blashill was forced to make the moves as the Wings have struggled to find offence of late. The team has only netted 19 goals in the last 10 games. They’ve been outshot in the last eight games and have gone 2 for 15 on the man advantage in their last six contests.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 15, 2016
Despite all that, the 37-year-old Datsyuk has been the team’s hottest skater despite missing training camp and the entire month of October while recovering from off-season ankle surgery.
He’s assisted on five of six goals the Wings have scored in the past three games and also added a tally of his own in that span. Datsyuk has 11 points in the last 13 games to go with a stellar plus-9 rating.
“He’s playing good,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg told mlive.com’ Brendan Savage. “He’s feeling it. He’s been playing well for us here for the last two months, probably our best player.”
The top line of Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist and and Justin Abdelkader will remain intact. But Darren Helm, who hasn’t scored since Dec. 10, will be on the fourth line alongside Luke Glendening and Tomas Jurco.
Heading into action Wednesday night against the St. Louis Blues, the third unit will consist of Riley Shehan between Brad Richards and Teemu Pulkkinen.