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Red Wings' Larkin, Sabres' Eichel set to face off

by Paul Harris / NHL.com

SABRES (10-12-2) at RED WINGS (12-8-4)

TV: TVA Sports, SNO, SNP, MSG-B, BELL TV, FS-D

DETROIT -- When the Detroit Red Wings play the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena, it will be a matchup of two of the NHL's top rookies this season.

Detroit forward Dylan Larkin has 10 goals, which leads NHL rookies, and eight assists in 24 games and is tied for the League lead at plus-14. Larkin was named the NHL Rookie of the Month for November, when he had seven goals and 10 points in 13 games.

Buffalo center Jack Eichel has eight goals and four assists in 24 games.

Larkin was the 15th pick of the 2014 NHL Draft and Eichel was the second player taken in the 2015 draft. The 19-year-olds are good friends. They played together with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, and at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship and 2015 IIHF World Championship.

"I think it'll be a normal game. I think it'll be pretty cool to see him out there," Larkin said. "For sure I think we have to watch him. I think a lot of guys on our team probably seeing him for the first time have to respect his speed for the rest of the game."

Eichel had similar words of praise when it came to Larkin.

"He's a great skater. When I see him [on highlights], it's not a surprise," Eichel said. "You see how good of a shot he has and how he can make plays at high speed."

Larkin stressed Eichel's speed.

"It doesn't look like he's skating fast, but you'll see him blow by defensemen and then he can go wide and cut to the middle and create that lane to the net," Larkin said.

Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma coached Eichel and Larkin at the World Championship last season.

"Top speed, in both cases. With Jack and Dylan they're both tremendously talented young players," Bylsma said. "And especially as young players they've really played at a high level this season."

Here are the projected lineups:

SABRES

Evander Kane - Ryan O'Reilly - Sam Reinhart

Matt Moulson - Jack Eichel - Brian Gionta

Nicolas Deslauriers - Zemgus Girgensons - Jamie McGinn

Marcus Foligno - David Legwand - Johan Larsson

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe - Cody Franson

Zach Bogosian - Mike Weber

Linus Ullmark

Chad Johnson

Injured: Robin Lehner (ankle), Tyler Ennis (upper body), Mark Pysyk (lower body), Mike Weber (knee)

Scratched: Carlo Colaiacovo, Tim Schaller

RED WINGS

Dylan Larkin - Henrik Zetterberg - Justin Abdelkader

Brad Richards - Pavel Datsyuk - Darren Helm

Gustav Nyquist - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Tatar

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Teemu Pulkkinen

Niklas Kronwall - Mike Green

Danny DeKeyser - Jonathan Ericsson

Brendan Smith - Alexey Marchenko

Petr Mrazek

Jimmy Howard

Injured: Johan Franzen (concussion), Kyle Quincey (ankle)

Scratched: Tomas Jurco, Joakim Andersson, Jakub Kindl

Status update: Larsson returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for two games. "I want to see some energy and passion in his game," Bylsma said. "He's got good speed and skill." … Larkin will kill penalties for the first time this season.

Who's hot: Reinhart had two goals Saturday in a 4-1 win against the Nashville Predators. … Larkin has six goals and an assist in his past seven games.

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