Larkin, Athanasiou approaching 30 goals; Hirose fitting in
Both Andreas Athanasiou and Dylan Larkin are on the verge of doing something that no Red Wing has done in 10 years: score 30 goals in a season.
The last time that happened was the 2008-09 season when Marian Hosse (40), Johan Franzen (34), Pavel Datsyuk (32) and Henrik Zetterberg (31) all accomplished the feat.
Athanasiou has 29 goals and Larkin has 28 with six games left in the season. Both scored in Monday night’s 3-2 road win over the San Jose Sharks.
Athanasiou has seven goals in the last 10 games. But Larkin was not his usual self in the four games he played after returning from a neck sprain. But he returned to form in a win in Las Vegas on Saturday night, when he assisted on Anthony Mantha’s game-winning goal in overtime, and in Monday’s game.
Both are playing center. Larkin, of course, has played exclusively in the middle for the last two seasons while coach Jeff Blashill moved Athanasiou from wing to center after the deadline trade of Guatsv Nyquist to San Jose.
“The last two games, especially, they’ve both been super dangerous,” Blashill said on the Red Wings website. “Larks took a little bit coming back from the injury, but now he’s really going. He’s super dangerous with the puck.
“Having both of them at center, when they get the puck in the middle of the ice, they’re dynamic. And they can skate away from you and they can push our pace. Those two have been a real bright spot the last bit.”
Hirose impressive so far
Taro Hirose has not looked at all out of place since signing with Detroit as a free agent out of Michigan State.
The 5-10, 160-pound left wing has had an assist in each of his first four games, becoming the first Red Wings rookie to start his career with a four-game point streak since Larkin had points in his first five games in 2015-16.
Larkin has been impressed.
“It doesn’t seem like there is any panic in his game, ever,” Larkin told the Detroit Free Press. “He’s so calm with the puck – it’s clear he wants to hold onto it and make plays, and that’s the biggest thing that stands out for me. To hang onto that puck an extra split second or to find the late guy – that’s a mature hockey player.”
Hirose, 22, explained his game.
“That’s part of my game, to read off my linemates and try to get them the puck,” he said. “At this level, guys are always in the right spots, so they just make it really easy. I’m just sort of rolling with it right now and trying to get better every game.”
Michigan communities are Hockeyville finalists
Cadillac’s Wexford County Civic Center and Calumet’s Colosseum were named two of four finalists for the title of Kraft Hockeyville USA 2019, a sweepstakes hosted by the NHL, NHLPA and Kraft Heinz designed to support local ice rinks and promote hockey in communities across the United States.
The Eagle River Sports Arena in Eagle River, Wisconsin, and Bernicks Arena in Sartell, Minnesota, are the other two finalists.
The grand prize winner gets the opportunity to host an NHL preseason game and also wins $150,000 in rink upgrades from Kraft Heinz.
The runner-up will receive $30,000 for rink upgrades. And all four will get $10,000 worth of new hockey equipment from the NHLPA Goals & Dreams program.
Online voting begins at 7 a.m. on Saturday, March 30, and ends at 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 31. Click here to vote. The winner will be announced live during an intermission of an NHL game on NBCSN on Sunday.
The Wexford County Civic Center was in trouble when its ice-making equipment failed in the fall of 2018. Local donations helped solve the problem, and insurance money will also cover some of the cost, according to
The Calumet Colosseum is the oldest indoor ice arena in the world, having opened in Michigan’s Copper Country in 1913.