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Notes: Larkin not satisfied with season to this point

Danny DeKeyser set to get PP time; Tomas Tatar playing through some shoulder issues

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

Dylan Larkin is always striving for excellence.

Last year Larkin burst on the scene with 14 goals and 15 assists in his first 41 games, earning an All-Star appearance.

This year hasn't come as easily to Larkin, who is tied with Anthony Mantha for the team lead in goals with 11 but has just 16 points in the first 41 games.

It's something that Wings coach Jeff Blashill cautioned about before the season started.

"Larks is going through something that most guys go through right away in their career and it's just been a learning process," Blashill said to reporters in Dallas. "His first three months nothing really went wrong. And now he's just got to work through some of the frustration. It's a tough league. But Larks' competitiveness is great, his willingness, his want to be an excellent player is great, so he's just got to stay with it and keep working and get better."

Larkin expects a lot out of himself, which is where the frustration comes in.

"I don't think it's been too good," Larkin told "There's times where there's been little stretches where it's been going in and then long stretches where it hasn't, so I think there's still a lot of learning, still a lot of adapting to different positions, but for me personally I want to be more successful and help the team win more."

Last year Larkin was a 19-year-old rookie, so the Wings placed him on captain Henrik Zetterberg's wing, where he had less responsibility and more freedom.

Larkin has welcomed playing his natural center position but is now looking to make his line mates better.

"I want to be a centerman where guys want to play with me and when we're out there we're going to be in the O-zone and quick in our D-zone to go play offense," Larkin said. "By doing that I've learned the hard way at times you got to do it the right way and you can't cheat. Those things are what I'm really trying to work on and the better I play defensively the more chances I get on offense."

In the NHL, every player is highly skilled, even on teams with lesser records.

"The NHL level is completely different than any level you've ever experienced, where players are so good and other centermen are so good that you have to be on your toes at all times, you got to battle every face-off, every time the puck is in your own zone, you can't just glide around or turn away from the puck or it's going to be in the back of your net," Larkin said.

Blashill said the reality is the NHL is a tough league in which to be really good on a nightly basis.

"It's hard to be great over and over again, whether it's for the season, whether it's for five seasons," Blashill said. "It's the biggest challenge. Only the best players do, and he wants to be one of those best players. You look at Henrik Zetterberg over the last 10 years, 12 years, he was great every year. Larks wants to be in that category, so it's just a learning process. It takes special commitment, special skill set. I think he's got the skill set to do it, he's just got to continue to work."

DEKEYSER TO PP: It's not completely unfamiliar territory for Danny DeKeyser but he hasn't played regularly on the power play for a while.

Yet that's where he was in Wednesday's practice in Dallas.

"Danny two years ago, not last year, spent a significant amount of time on it and obviously, the power play was really good that year," Blashill told reporters in Dallas Wednesday. "What Danny brings is a a real ability to break the puck up the ice. He's a good skater, he can move the puck. One of the things we've talked lots about is we've got to do a better job of getting in the zone and having more possession time. I think he can help with that."

DeKeyser welcomes the challenge.

"I think at this point, it's just about being really, really simple on it and just making easy plays and shooting the puck a lot," DeKeyser said. 'Obviously, our power play, we all know how it's been this year. Usually one guy's not going to change up a whole lot but maybe just some different looks that it can bring, just have a determination to shoot the puck more and get more pucks to the net 'cause I think that's what we need right now."

The Wings' power play remains 30th in the league at 11.1 percent.

TATAR GOOD TO GO: Tomas Tatar took a maintenance day Wednesday but told he is ready to go tonight against the Dallas Stars.

Tatar is tied for fourth on the team in scoring with Anthony Mantha with 19 points.

Tatar has two goals and three assists in his last six games.

"You just have to shoot it and find your way," Tatar said. "You need to get a few of those greasy goals around the crease and find those. We just have to battle, like you said, those greasy areas, it's kind of tough to get there, everybody's boxing out. You just have to make sure those shots will go through and you will create a rebound."

The Wings are 24th in the league with 2.39 goals per game, something that Tatar knows needs to improve.

"We need more goals, that's for sure," Tatar said. "Like you said, maybe it's the time to step up and score more goals, that's for sure, help the team. I feel like everybody has to do a little better, a little more push for the team and we all can be (a) success together. It's hard to do it on your own or to rely on one or two guys. Everybody has to step in and do their job."

Tatar admitted that his shoulder, which was injured last season, has been bothering him and will likely need surgery after this season.

"It's a little limited but it doesn't really hurt," Tatar said. "It's going on and off. It's become a little issue, that's for sure. I'm trying to do the best so I keep it not inflamed and just to be good to go."

LINEUP: Petr Mrazek will start against the Stars.

Early indications are Nick Jensen will be back in the lineup and Ryan Sproul will be scratched.

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