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Andersson sits, Larkin more PK time

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin will get a chance to use his speed even more as he will kill penalties for the Wings in the absence of Drew Miller and Joakim Andersson. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT -- With Teemu Pulkkinen's return to the lineup, Joakim Andersson is now the odd man out.

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Pulkkinen would play on a line with Luke Glendening and Tomas Jurco.

Before Pulkkinen suffered a dislocated right shoulder Dec. 3 against Arizona, he had six goals, five assists and was plus-2 in 24 games.

Andersson has one goal, two assists and was plus-1 in 24 games.

Blashill said one thing out of Andersson's control is playing time.

"When he gets in, he hasn't had lots of minutes so to be real fair to him, it would be hard for me to talk about lots of things he has to do when he hasn't had enough minutes," Blashill said. "Right now I have those other guys ahead of him. How does he get himself ahead of those guys? I guess what you do every day in practice and stuff matters but he'll probably need more opportunity, that would be the No. 1 thing. Sometimes that comes at times when you don't think it's going to. He's just got to stay mentally strong and make sure he's prepared to handle that."

One of Pulkkinen's goals came on the power play, where the Wings believe he can add an element.

"He’s got a pretty dangerous shot," Mike Green said. "He’s got a quick release and he’s definitely not afraid to shoot it, that’s for sure. If we can get it to him tonight it’s never a bad thing. He was pretty hot there before he was out."

Pulkkinen had 45 shots in his 24 games, more than Niklas Kronwall, who has 42 shots in 44 games; more than Danny DeKeyser, who has 38 shots in 40 games; and more than Glendening, who has 40 shots in 43 games.

MORE PK OPPORTUNITY FOR LARKIN: Andersson's absence coupled with Drew Miller's injury means more penalty kill opportunity for Dylan Larkin.

Larkin, who has played sporadically on the penalty kill this season, will join Glendening, Darren Helm, Riley Sheahan and Justin Abdelkader.

"Larks was touted coming in after we drafted him, his 200-foot game and he was a really good penalty killer," Blashill said. "He went over to the world championships, he wasn't on the power play but he killed penalties for Team USA. That's something he's done lots in his career."

Larkin said there is a difference killing penalties at the NHL level.

"The power play guys are so good," Larkin said. "You got to be on your toes at all times, especially the Flyers tonight, they got one of the best power plays in the league. Guys like (Claude) Giroux and (Jakub) Voracek, some good defensemen who can move it and shoot, so you got to be in lanes and be willing to block shots."

Of course, blocking shots can be a risky proposition, but Blashill believes it's not as bad as it used to be.

"The equipment's better," Blashill said. "So guys have the pads they wear on their skates, they have good shin pads. You don't get hurt as much blocking. You have way fuller chest protectors, the pants are better. Just like goalies, you don't get hurt as much anymore. It's not to say you can't take one in the wrong part of the hand, you can't take one in the ankle, you can't take one on the foot, but I think if you go back 10 years, guys block way more shots because it's not as much of a painful thing as it once was."

Blashill believes there's a way for Larkin to not have to block too many shots on the penalty kill.

"I'd rather see Larks get to the point, if you meet pucks, then you don't have to block pucks," Blashill said. "If you don't meet pucks and you sit back, you have to block pucks. We'd rather meet pucks as much as we can. That's what we'd like him to do as much as possible."

But Blashill said the reality is, at some point, every player is going to have to be willing to block a shot to help his team win a game, as Pavel Datsyuk did in blocking Shea Weber's shot in Nashville.

"I think it’s just a will, and then a skill, too," Larkin said. "A little bit of both. There’s definitely a skill, knowing how to not get hurt. What equipment and where to place it. It’s a will and skill there."

Larkin knows that watching a guy like Glendening can help accelerate the learning process.

"You learn the wrong way a few times and then you learn how to do it," Larkin said. "You watch guys like Luke Glendening, he always has his face out of the way, seems like he always gets hit in the pants or the shin pads. You got to learn from him."

With Larkin's elite speed, he can also create offensive chances while killing penalties.

"I want him to utilize his quickness," Blashill said. "I think his quickness can make him a special penalty killer. I think he's got a good brain. I'd like him to actually be a little more even active in trying to not find loose pucks but meet pucks, anticipate where the puck's going and meet pucks and get stick on puck and do those things. I think that'll be his maturation process as a killer. We think long-term he's going to be a guy who can do both penalty killing and be on the power play."

MARCHENKO MISSES SKATE: Blashill said defenseman Alexey Marchenko was not available for Sunday's morning skate but he was not injured or ill.

Since Kyle Quincey returned to the lineup, Marchenko has sat out.

But Blashill said that will not always be the case.

"Marchy didn't play his way out of the lineup, he played really well," Blashill said. "We had a guy become available to us who's been a great player for us over the last two years in Quincey and we made the decision to go with the six we have. We think we have seven real good NHL D available to us. He happens to be the odd man out right now. He'll see plenty of time here in the real near future."

FLYING HIGH: Despite their shootout loss to the New York Rangers Saturday afternoon, the Philadelphia Flyers have been playing well.

The Flyers won the previous four games.

The Flyers have also won four of their last five games against the Wings but are just 20-36-10 in Detroit.

Michael Raffl has two goals and four assists in six games against the Wings; Giroux has five goals and nine assists in 11 games; and Mark Streit has one goal and 10 assists in 11 games.

Against the Flyers, Henrik Zetterberg has 10 goals and eight assists in 13 games while Datsyuk has nine goals and seven assists in 12 games.

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