The weekend tilt versus the Pittsburgh Penguins (aka wilkes-barre penguins) gave Wings fans a taste of what will be the highlight of this upcoming season. The line of Larkin/Mantha/Bertuzzi seems to be well bonded and symbiotic. On a night of a 3-2 win, Mantha had 1 goal, Bertuzzi had one goal, and Larkin had 2 assists. (Madison Bowey had a phenomenal night with 1 goal and 2 assists). It would be a good bet that most of the offense this season is going to go through those 3 forwards.
Tristan Jarry made a few phenomenal saves on that line as well. He absolutely robbed Mantha on a 2 pass and shoot attempt, and again in overtime on a fantastic shot. Mantha is feeling his oats. Of the three, he has the best “booming” shot. His wrist shot is fantastic, and he can rip a one timer as well. Bertuzzi is fantastic positionally and in winning battles. His goal, rightfully, was a deflection. He can shoot for sure, but he is your net front tip and battle in the corners guy.
Dylan Larkin. I’m not sure how to accurately state how good this kid really is. A 19th overall pick that turned the Red Wings philosophy on its ear. After one year in college Zetterburg and others pleaded his case to be brought up to the big club during his second training camp. I can’t remember in modern times our top center being in his early twenties. Of course Steve Yzerman in the 80s, but since then? Most guys didn’t get a real look until 23 or 24 (at least in the 2000s era). Larkin is poised to be a franchise player. His overtime faceoff that led to the game winner, we’ve seen him do it before. He pushes the puck past the other center and counts on being able to outskate the opposition. 2 of the 3 players for Pitt were on him, leaving Madison Bowey wide open. Down the ice, away from the net, dish the puck and goal. Beautiful.
This line is already on the same page. They stayed together during the summer and worked out. Whatever is in Larkin’s blood that makes him want to be better is apparently infectious. He had several players working out together, hanging out together all summer. This is something I haven’t seen in Detroit. Summers meant that our team disbanded back to Sweden, Russia, Newfoundland, etc. This new crop of kids seems to be committed to elevating the team through being close knit and pushing each other.
It is still a long shot to think this team will be outside of the bottom 5 of the league. Not because of lack of effort, but developmentally. Tampa, Boston, Toronto and Florida could all be nightmare teams. They are loaded for bear. However, I do think this team will cause more issues for teams than will be expected. A thorn in the side led by our three headed monster of Larkin/Mantha/Bertuzzi and an immense talent of Athanasiou and whoever is lucky enough to be on a line with him. There will be games where the future looks bright.