Hockey

Dylan Larkin is Quietly Having an Elite Season

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After the 2020-21 NHL season, there were a lot of questions about Detroit Red Wings captain, Dylan Larkin. The then 24-year-old captain was coming off his worst year production-wise since 2016-17 after tallying just 23 points in 44 games. He also had his season ended early after a crosscheck from Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn gave him a neck injury that the Red Wings were worried would keep him out of training camp.

A large amount of the Hockeytown faithful thought the idea of Larkin being a 1C on this team had disappeared by the time May 2021 rolled around. There were some even saying that he wouldn’t be the captain for the future but was just a placeholder until one of the young prospects had come in and usurped him as leader of the team. Those thoughts are now a thing of the past as the now 25-year-old Waterford, Michigan has not only finally reached his expectations, but has exceeded them.

Production Reaching New Heights

Larkin has played in 47 out of 52 games so far this season and is on pace to smash multiple career highs. His 26 goals are just six off his career-high of 32 from 2018-19. At his current pace, he’d end the season with 41 goals which would be the most by a Red Wing since Henrik Zetterberg scored 43 in 2007-08. That’s not only great compared to himself and to Red Wings history but to the league itself. He’s currently tied for ninth in the league in goals and is tied for third in the league in 5v5 goals with 18 which matches his career-high from his rookie season.

He probably won’t reach his career-high in assists of 47 from 2017-18, but he will easily smash his career-high in points (73) from 2018-19. With 54 points in 47 games, he currently sits tied for 15th in the league and is on pace for 88 points which would be the highest by a Red Wing since Pavel Datsyuk had 97 in 2008-09. In a full 82 game season, he would be on pace for a whopping 94 points.

To combine with all of this, his production is currently ramping up to levels never seen from him. He’s currently on an eight-game point streak which is his longest since his 14-game point streak back in 2018-19. However, during that 14-game streak, he had a lot of one-point games and finished the streak with just 17 points. On his current eight-game point streak, he is averaging two points per game for a whopping 16 points.

The most impressive part of all of this is that he’s doing it all with his lowest average time-on-ice in five seasons at 19:14 per game. He’s taking fewer shots (3.00 shots per game) than he was in 2018-19 (3.78) as well, but his shooting percentage is a full seven points higher than his career-high at 18.4%. Rather than trying to take over the game for his team, he’s getting his teammates involved more which, in turn, is creating much higher percentage scoring chances for himself and he’s taking full advantage.

More Than Just a Points Guy

While Dylan Larkin is putting up the best stats of his career, it shouldn’t be ignored that he’s a solid two-way forward as well. His solid defensive play has been well documented, having finished 20th in Selke Trophy voting in 2018-19. That play has continued again this year as he has continued playing great defensive hockey.

Larkin is winning 52.9% of his faceoffs, the second-best number of his career. He has also been a great leader to play next to the Red Wings two rookie studs, Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider. Larkin and Raymond have played on a line together every game this year while Seider, as the team leader in minutes, is constantly out on the ice with Larkin, in particular on the power play where they have made an excellent duo. All the talk of Larkin not being a true 1C or a good captain for the Red Wings going forward has gone out the window. The Red Wings have made a huge jump this season during their rebuild, and the elite play of #71 is the biggest reason why.

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Riley McPherson is a 27-year-old writer from Southwest Michigan. She won 3 Student MAB awards while attending Grand Valley State University as both a radio broadcaster and sports anchor. She is a fan of Detroit sports, the University of Michigan and is a big Premier League and Aussie Rules football fanatic. She also hosts her own Michigan sports podcast called Great Lakes Sports Takes.