Red Wings-Sharks Preview
Dylan Larkin won't turn 20 for another six months, but the Detroit Red Wings' rookie center already is making quite an impact.
His coach believes he's barely tapped into his potential, though.
The club's lone All-Star looks to help Detroit remain perfect on its road trip when it faces the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.
Larkin began his first NHL season with a five-game point streak and hasn't slowed down much, leading the Red Wings (20-13-7) with 14 goals and ranking second behind Henrik Zetterberg with 27 points.
He scored a highlight-reel goal in Monday's 1-0 win over New Jersey that gave Detroit back-to-back victories to begin a six-game trip.
"We've struggled a bit with one-goal leads, and I think we'll have to learn from this win and how we shut it down in the third period," Larkin said. "It's a huge two points. For all teams it's going to come down to a lot of games like that, where you got to shut it down."
Two days after that win, the 19-year-old became the third Red Wings rookie and second-youngest since 1969 to be selected an All-Star.
First-year coach Jeff Blashill appreciates Larkin's confidence, but he held back on showering him with praise when asked about Larkin's strengths. The 15th overall pick in 2014 is only 39 games into his career, and Blashill doesn't want the attention going to his head.
"Larks is a really talented player. Larks has a lot of energy and drive. Larks (also) has to get better at a lot of things," Blashill said. "My job is to help our guys get better, whether it's a guy like Zetterberg or (Pavel) Datsyuk that's been around as elite players in the league, or a young guy like Larkin. I look at it like we try to accentuate their positives and work on their negatives. Every player's got positives and negatives, and he's not different."
Larkin assisted on Tomas Tatar's goal in the first meeting with the Sharks on Nov. 13, but San Jose pulled out a 3-2 road victory despite being outshot 28-14 to win for the sixth time in the last seven matchups.
The Sharks (18-17-2), though, have the league's worst home record at 5-11-0 and have dropped two of three to begin a five-game homestand. All-Star Brent Burns scored his 16th goal - most among NHL defensemen - before they fell 4-1 to Winnipeg on Saturday.
Joe Thornton had an assist to give him eight along with three goals during an eight-game point streak, his longest since a 10-game run in 2009.
San Jose is just 2-3-1 over the last six, though, and coach Peter DeBoer wasn't happy with the latest effort.
''That was an egg. Top to bottom, poor effort, poor execution. Sloppy, soft,'' DeBoer said. ''They won all the races, all the battles and they won the goaltending battle. We're in no position to show up and play like that. It's unacceptable.''
Alex Stalock replaced Martin Jones in net in the third period, but the Sharks reassigned Stalock to the AHL in favor of Troy Grosenick on Wednesday. It's unclear who will start this contest, as Jones has a 3.68 goals-against average over his last six.
Petr Mrazek could get another shot in goal for the Red Wings. He has a 1.96 GAA in five starts and two relief efforts since Dec. 22.