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Notes: Larkin and Chicago's Kane have mutual admiration for each other

Blashill coached both on Team USA in last year's world championships; Howard rewarded

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT -- The Chicago Blackhawks come to town as one of the hottest teams in the league, having won nine of their last 11 games.

One of the main drivers of their run is Patrick Kane, who is in the midst of an 18-game point streak, the longest by any player this season.

Kane, 30, has 14 goals and 26 assists in that span.

"He's a dynamic player," Wings center Dylan Larkin said. "If he's not the best, he's top-two ever American-born players. I grew up watching him a lot and have a lot of respect for him. You give him space, he's going to make you pay, so we have to try to take away his time and space and watch him every second he's on the ice."

Larkin got an up-close view of Kane last spring when the two played for Team USA in the world championships in Denmark.

"Even in the World Championships, when we were playing teams we should beat, he still wants more for himself and more for the team and has a killer instinct," Larkin said. "We saw that last time we played these guys. He had a chance late in the game and he put us away, so he has that ability to finish games and win games for his team."

Kane expressed admiration for Larkin after the team's morning skate at Little Caesars Arena.

"Very impressed with him, especially in a tournament like that with the big ice," Kane said. "I thought he did a great job of being able to shut down top players on the other team and also while doing that, be able to produce and bring offense. Yeah, he really impressed me. I thought he was a great kid. I think he's got a really bright future in the game of hockey.

"You can tell he's just like a natural born leader, he wants to be involved with the team, he wants to be around the guys and he also wants to play the game the right way. It's not like he's really thinking about points or goals or anything like that. I'm sure that comes with his part of the game but he really does play a team game first."

Larkin, 22, leads the Wings in goals with 24 and in points with 55.

Kane leads the Blackhawks in goals with 36 and in points with 90. Kane is second in the league in points to Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov, who has 99 points. He is tied for second in goals with Buffalo's Jeff Skinner. Washington's Alex Ovechkin leads with 42.

Captain Jonathan Toews and Farmington Hills, Mich. native Alex DeBrincat are tied for second on the team with 60 points.

Wings coach Jeff Blashill coached Larkin and Kane on that bronze medal-winning squad.

"(Kane's) one of the best puckhandlers probably of all time," Blashill said. "The puck sticks to him. He's got a totally unbelievable offensive mind. These are all things I think most people know. He's got great instincts offensively. He's got great poise with the puck. What I was really impressed with was that his competitive fire was unbelievable. His leadership was awesome. Those were two things that not having been around at all, I had an unbelievable amount of respect for his game on the ice. But to see his competitive fire, his leadership was really incredible. Totally impressed with him as a player and as a person. Really enjoyed our time together there. He's a fun guy to coach for sure."

DeBrincat, 21, is second on the Blackhawks in goals with 32.

"I've known him for a while," Larkin said. "He just seems to find a way to score. He came in here last year and had a hat trick. We got to make it a hard night for him. He's another guy that like Patrick Kane, he doesn't need a lot of time. He doesn't need to be flying around. He'll be pretty quiet and then he'll make you pay. We have to watch him all minutes and every second he's on the ice."

Blashill said he has also had the opportunity to coach DeBrincat before.

"Super, super nice young guy, done a great job so far," Blashill said. "Real, real smart about how to get open. I think part of shutting down any of these guys is making them defend. I think that's the No. 1 way for us to have a lot of effectiveness. We've talked about this lots against some of the league's best players but when they have the puck, they're one of the better offensive groups we'll see and he's a super smart player, knows how to get open and can put the puck in the net. He finds ways to miss goalies. He just finds ways to the back of the net all the time.

"So we got to make the whole group defend. That doesn't mean he's not a good defensive player, he is. But the more we have the puck on our stick, the more we play in the O-zone, the better chance that we can shut them down."

Kane and DeBrincat are especially dangerous with the man-advantage.

The Blackhawks' power play is currently tied for ninth in the league at 22 percent.

Kane has 28 power-play points to lead Chicago and DeBrincat leads in power-play goals with 10 and is second in points with 21.

The Blackhawks are one point out of a playoff spot in the congested Western Conference.

"Obviously the West is a unique thing right now where that last playoff spot's totally up for grabs for anybody over there the way it's gone," Blashill said. "But Chicago's done a good job of getting themselves back in the mix. They've certainly been real hot. They're playing a real offensive north game. You saw the game against Ottawa. They scored tons of goals. The game against us, I think we gave up seven outnumbered rushes in the first period. We certainly can't play like that if we want to have success against them. They've got some real dynamic offensive players. We gotta make sure we make them defend."

SVECHNIKOV SKATES: When forward Evgeny Svechnikov underwent surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Oct. 16, most people assumed his season was done.

But that may not be the case.

Although the timeline for recovery with that injury is 5-6 months, Svechnikov has been skating for a while and participated in the team's optional morning skate Wednesday.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: See you tonight. #LGRW

"I did the skate the last game optional skate but it was less stuff," Svechnikov said. "It was first time doing that much. I feel good. I feel fine. I was just more excited and I didn't think about how I would feel. It was just super happy."

Blashill said he would need to discuss it with the training staff before he put a timetable on a possible return to action for Svechnikov. "I think part of it's just the progression," Blashill said. "Today was a step where he was able to skate with our players and I know he was excited about it but nothing more than a step right now."

HOWARD REWARDED: Goaltender Jimmy Howard, who was first goalie off the ice after the optional morning skate, got a big surprise from his teammates.

To celebrate Howard's 500th career game, all with Detroit, his teammates gave him a Ski Doo jet ski, similar to the gift they gave defenseman Trevor Daley for his 1,000th career game.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: *GIVEAWAY ALERT* First 7500 fans at @LCArena_Detroit for tonight���s Original Six matchup with the Blackhawks will receive one of these hats Trevor & his son are rocking, courtesy of @MotorCityCasino! #CHIvsDET | #LGRW

"It's a lot of fun, having his family come down and seeing his two boys that are already on the jet ski," Larkin said. "It's a great accomplishment that he's one of three goalies to wear a Red Wings jersey for 500 games. It's very special. Someone that's worked very hard for that and had ups and downs and you see this year he's an All-Star and having a great year and I think our best player. He's still at the top of his game and it's great to see he's going to get recognized."

Blashill has been equally impressed with Howard, particularly the way he came back a few seasons ago after Petr Mrazek briefly surpassed him as the No. 1 goaltender.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: A little gift for Jimmy's 500th. 🎁🌊

"What an accomplishment. I think there's 71 goalies in the history of the NHL that have played 500 games," Blashill said. "He's one of three in the Detroit Red Wings, one of the most storied franchises in the NHL. What an accomplishment.

"I think it's awesome and I've talked about this lots, based on the fact that I think three years ago it looked like he could have been relegated to potentially being a backup and he changed his game, he dug in as much as anybody I've ever seen dig in at that age, looked in the mirror, said I've got to find a way to be better and has totally, totally revamped his game to the point where night in, night out, he's one of the better goalies in the NHL. So I think it's great."

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