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Notes: Perlini looking forward to a fresh start

Red Wings hope big forward's game finally comes together

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- After the Red Wings defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-1, Tuesday night at Little Caesars Arena, Dylan Larkin was asked about the Wings trading for his buddy, forward Brendan Perlini.

"I'm excited about it. Obviously, we have a great history as close friends coming up together and playing in Detroit right here," Larkin said. "He's a big guy that can skate and shoot the puck. Another guy when he gets hot, he can be dynamic and dangerous in this league.

"It's a guy that I've had chemistry with in the past. We've remained close friends in the summer, golfing together and whatever. He's someone that could be a huge impact player for us. I think we're all excited that he's here."

Perlini's family moved to Michigan in 2010 because his brother, Brett, was playing for Michigan State, and also for the opportunity metro Detroit provides for young hockey players.

He ended up playing with a young Larkin and the two hit it off.

"We grew up together. We played together where we were 14, 15 in bantam and midget," Perlini said Thursday after his first Red Wings practice at the BELFOR Training Center. "It's funny to almost, whatever, nine, 10 years later to be back at it again. That's pretty unreal."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "I'm excited for a fresh start and opportunity." - Brendan Perlini following his first practice with the #RedWings. pic.twitter.com/DCYMiPA9fs

Originally drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the first round, 12th overall, in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-foot-3, 211-pound left wing has had a difficult time settling in at the NHL level.

In 200 career games with Arizona and Chicago, Perlini has 72 points (45-27-72) and is minus-23 with an average ice time of 13:35 per game. Out of his 72 points, 20 have come on the power play (10-10-20) and he has three game-winning goals, all with the Coyotes.

So even though the Red Wings are Perlini's third team at the ripe old age of 23, it easy to figure out why Detroit, which is having significant problems scoring goals, would send a highly touted prospect, defenseman Alec Regula, to the Blackhawks for Perlini, who is Canadian but was born in the United Kingdom.

The Wings are confident Perlini's potential is substantial and he is ready to fully embrace being a member of the Red Wings and producing on the scoresheet.

"I haven't played too much this year, so I'm excited to get back in and show these guys here what I can do with my speed and shot," Perlini said. "I'm excited for a fresh start and an opportunity here. It seems like everyone is a good guy, and they got a good group up here so far, so it's going to be fun.

"I'm a pretty quick player. I like to play with speed and pace. I'm a shooter, so I try and create chances for other guys and myself. Those are probably my strongest assets. I know they got a lot of fast guys here, obviously AA (Andreas Athanasiou) and Larks (Larkin), guys like that. It kind of plays into my hands as well, which we can both kind of help each other."

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill hopes Perlini will do a little self-reflection and have a bit of a metamorphosis as a hockey player.

"We think there's still the chance he can still blossom into a really good NHL goal-scorer and player. His first year in Arizona, he had really good numbers for a young guy. It's dwindled since," Blashill said. "Those can happen for numerous reasons, certainly a lot of that is on him. Him and I talked about that. If he, through the course of his three years in the league, hasn't learned and gotten better, then it'll probably be the same as it's been.

"If he's learned and gotten better, then he puts himself in position to succeed. He's got two things here -- a clean slate and opportunity. He's got to make the most of those. The willingness to look in the mirror and say, 'I have to play better and not play the blame game that I've just been screwed at every spot.' That to me is the No. 1 trait. Some guys, it clicks and they look in the mirror and say, 'I got to own a lot of this.'

"I think if he's got that unique ability to look in the mirror and say, 'I got to own it, I got to be way better and two, also have the mental toughness to keep his confidence high after going through tough stretches, then he's got a chance to be one of those guys where it really clicks, as it does for some guys and some guys it doesn't."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: 🗣���: Coach Blashill following practice at home before we head off to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes tomorrow night. pic.twitter.com/BboU7GsXok

Perlini was skating on a line with Frans Nielsen and Taro Hirose, a combination, if it clicks, that could give the Red Wings scoring depth on all four lines.

"Both Nielsen and Hirose are good at setting people up, so I'm hoping that can be a real good match and make another dangerous line for us," Blashill said. "I think (Valtteri) Filppula, Athanasiou and (Anthony) Mantha have been dangerous. It hasn't always resulted in goals yet but they've been really dangerous. If you can get three real dangerous lines and a hard forechecking line, I think you've got a good makeup up front."

Larkin didn't skate on Thursday, which Blashill called a "maintenance day," so Perlini took Larkin's spot in the slot with the first power-play unit. Larkin is expected to play Friday night in Carolina, but Perlini will see some power-play time.

"Right now we're going to give him a chance on the power play," Blashill said. "(Perlini) has the skill set to be real good on the power play. He's a guy who's an elite shooter and if you look at his numbers over the short course of his career, he's scored goals in the NHL."

Perlini has had conversations with Wings general manager Steve Yzerman and Blashill about their expectations for him, but he's well aware of what he needs to do as with the Red Wings.

"They (Yzerman and Blashill) kind of said similar things, where it's a fresh opportunity for me to come here, show what you've got and prove yourself. That's exactly what I'm looking for me (on) what to do," Perlini said. "Sometimes it gets a little complicated with a bunch of stuff, but at the end of the day, it's just hockey. You go out, you play hard, you have fun and that's that.

"For me, one thing I always try and do is keep a good attitude, especially around the guys, and work hard and improve every day. There's always something for me that I can try and get better at every single day, try and improve on. That's my main thing."

HICKETTS STAYS IN LINEUP: Blashill indicated he expects Abdelkader will play against Carolina on Friday and defenseman Joe Hicketts, who was called up from Grand Rapids on Oct. 29, will remain in the Detroit lineup, which means Dennis Cholowski will again be a healthy scratch.

"We'll stick with Hicketts, he played really well," Blashill said.

Against the Oilers, Hicketts was held without a point and was even in 17:10 of ice time. He and Adam Erne led Detroit in hits with three apiece.

LINEUP IN PRACTICE: This was how the Wings' lineup looked in practice Thursday:

Tyler Bertuzzi-Ehn (for Larkin)-Darren Helm

Athanasiou-Filppula-Mantha

Perlini-Nielsen-Hirose

Abdelkader-Jacob de la Rose-Erne

Patrik Nemeth-Filip Hronek

Hicketts-Mike Green

Trevor Daley-Madison Bowey

Cholowski-Alex Biega (extras)

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