Wings keep se­cret of PK suc­cess

Detroit blocks 30 shots, shuts down Leafs’ power play

The Detroit News - - Nhl - BY TED KULFAN The Detroit News

Detroit — It was as if some­one had just asked Dy­lan Larkin a deep, dark se­cret no­body had ever asked him about.

But it wasn’t. A re­porter sim­ply asked Larkin about the Red Wings’ penalty kill af­ter Thurs­day’s game, which was ex­cep­tional in the Wings’ 5-4 over­time vic­tory over Toronto.

Still, that look of hor­ror.

“You know what, we are not go­ing to talk about the penalty kill be­cause we need to just not talk about it,” Larkin said. Strange, but OK.

But, why?

“We’ve been in­structed by (as­sis­tant coach) Doug Houda to just be busi­ness as usual.

“So, no com­ment.

Houda over­sees the penalty kill, and it ex­cep­tional against the Leafs, killing all four Toronto power plays — and keep­ing the Leafs’ third-ranked power play com­ing into the game off the score­board.

“Doug Houda did a great job of com­ing up with the plan and our guys did a great job of go­ing out and ex­e­cut­ing it,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “That’s a dan­ger­ous power play and we took too many penal­ties for my lik­ing, but the kill was great.”

Block­ing shots helped.

The Wings were block­ing shots all game, be it even­strength, penalty kill, what­ever sit­u­a­tion imag­in­able, to the tune of a 30 blocked Leafs shots.

Nik­las Kron­wall led the way with six, but it was a col­lec­tive team ef­fort from the start of the game.

“Our PK did an out­stand­ing job, guys were will­ing to block shots and that made a big dif­fer­ence,” goal­tender Jonathan Bernier said.

In Blashill’s es­ti­ma­tion, a team has to have un­real sac­ri­fice to win.

“And noth­ing shows sac­ri­fice bet­ter than blocked shots,” Blashill said. “We did an ex­cel­lent job of that. It was a big rea­son we won the hockey game.

“We’ve had wingers in the mid­dle of the ice just a lit­tle more than in the past (schemat­i­cally), but when you have (Luke) Glen­den­ing, (Ja­cob) de la Rose, a (Michael) Ras­mussen, a (Tyler) Ber­tuzzi, those guys, that’s what they do, and they do a great job of eat­ing pucks.

“The de­fense has done a great job of eat­ing pucks — and that’s how you win.”

Un­ex­pected of­fense

Toronto scored first Thurs­day, but the Wings were able to snuff the mo­men­tum and en­thu­si­asm in the build­ing quickly with goals from Jonathan Eric­s­son and Glen­den­ing.

Not ex­actly two ex­pected sources of of­fense, but it’s an­other rea­son for the Wings’ suc­cess this sea­son, dif­fer­ent play­ers pro­duc­ing on dif­fer­ent evenings.

“Good for Johnny to shoot it from the top there,” Blashill said. “Glenny has been ex­cel­lent all year. Glenny is a great hockey player. He helps you win games in so many ways.”

Glen­den­ing worked on the of­fen­sive part of his game last sum­mer.

“To keep

Blashill said.

“He’s one of those guys that can get bet­ter at things be­cause of his work ethic and his ath­leti­cism and he looks like a bet­ter of­fen­sive player now than he was a year ago.

“That’s in large part to the work he put in this sum­mer.”

Ice chips

get­ting

bet­ter,”

Ber­tuzzi’s two-game sus­pen­sion ended af­ter Thurs­day’s game.

He’ll be el­i­gi­ble to play against the Is­lan­ders.

… For­ward Gus­tav Nyquist feels Larkin has ex­panded his game, and Larkin’s speed is a fac­tor against op­po­nents.

“He plays in all sit­u­a­tions for us,” Nyquist said. “Once he gets go­ing on his skates, he’s a pretty tough player to stop with his speed. It’s great to see.

“He’s re­ally de­vel­oped that de­fen­sive side of the game since his first cou­ple of years. He’s been a real good player for us.”

… The Wings held an op­tional skate Fri­day.

tonight

Claus An­der­sen/Getty Im­ages

Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier, left, said his team­mates “were will­ing to block shots” on Thurs­day.

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