I understand if you're not fully engaged in Hockey Mode yet. It's very early in the season, there's football happening, there are baseball playoffs, and presumably you also have some sort of life to attend to. But trust me, you're going to love what Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin did to help earn his team a point at home against the Kings on Monday night.
This was a fun game throughout, with no team ever leading by more than a goal. A little over halfway through the third, it was the ageless Anze Kopitar who jumped on a loose puck in the crease to give the Kings a 4-3 lead and their third go-ahead goal of the game. It stayed that way until the Red Wings pulled their goalie, and then the magic happened. L.A. forward Viktor Arvidsson broke through the defense for a breakaway on a completely unguarded net. He took his time lining up the shot and patiently skated as close as possible to seal the victory. But he had no idea that Larkin had eliminated the gap between them. Larkin went down to the ice, surgically poked his stick through Arvidsson's legs without tripping him, and somehow made contact with the puck to deny the empty netter. Less than a minute later, Oskar Sundqvist scored the tying goal for Detroit.
I imagine you'll want an even closer look at that D, and you'll get it halfway through this video.
That's just great captaining, and the rare play that is gutsy while still being remarkably precise. This is the highest paid, most famous scorer on the team showcasing his skill on defense while giving everything he can to keep his boys alive, in just their third game of the year. Detroit surrendered the winning goal in overtime, but a point's a point, and the impression left by this play should linger longer than the sting of the loss.
"That was amazing," Larkin's teammate, David Perron, said afterwards. "We had to come through for him after that. You never know, at the end of the year, we might look back at those kinds of plays, and they add up for our group. It was amazing to see."
The Wings will certainly need every point they can get if they want this season to be more than just the very beginning of a turnaround. They've slogged through a rebuilding effort that's kept them outside the playoffs for six straight years, but this past offseason, while it didn't change the outlook for the franchise overnight, was busy enough to signal that the Detroit leadership might actually expect to win games at some point in the future. And as the young draft picks come into their own alongside a rebuilt veteran core, the Wings could prove to be a troubling opponent on any given day. "Big" Elmer Soderblom (he's 6-foot-8!) scored the winner in his NHL debut back on Friday, the 34-year-old Perron is looking hot after arriving from St. Louis, and the Wings have jumped out to a 2-0-1 start.
Which isn't nothing! The magic number for the East's final playoff spot is probably going to be something like 97 points, which is a whole 23 more than the Wings had last year. They still don't have anything like the talent present in the top half of their division, so they're going to have to scratch and claw their way up the standings, taking points however they can get them.