What you think of your first NHL goal?
Center - DET
Goals: 1 | Assists: 1 | Pts: 2
Shots: 6 | +/-: 3
"It's an incredible feeling just to see it go in and see The Joe go pretty crazy. Ever since the introduction there, I was kind of feeling the nerves and to put that one home, I started to feel comfortable and I thought my play started to pick up."
Your pass on Abdelkader’s second goal?
"I saw Kuba (Jakub Kindl) had a good pinch there and I had the puck for a quick second. I thought it was Z in front of the net but it was Abby. I saw his back in there and just threw it there and he did the rest. It was a great play by him."
Your NHL debut?
"I think just getting more comfortable. I think it was one game, just taking it to the next level, to 60 minutes. I had a few rough shifts at the beginning of the game. I'm not going to pick at it by all means. It's a special night for me and I'm going to enjoy it for a little bit and then get ready for Carolina."
Were you nervous?
“Yeah, for sure. When you're coming out to the introduction, you're just trying to focus not to fall, then first shift, I tied my skates too tight and my toes weren't really feeling. After that, I kind of settled in and felt pretty comfortable."
What are your overall impressions of the whole experience?
"I think it started right when I was named to the opening night roster and from there it was excitement, getting ready and family coming into town. It was a lot but to win 4-0 and score my first goal, I couldn't have it any better."
What do you think tonight meant to your family?
"It meant a lot, for them to come in and support me. My mom was telling me they haven't had this much, all the family together since their wedding. It's a big deal and I'm glad it worked out for everyone coming up."
Your dad said he could tell in your first few shifts that you were nervous.
"He always says that. But it's feeling out the game. It's another level from preseason. As a young guy, you've got to feel it out. Then after that I thought just tried to keep getting better. Working with Z and Abby, Abby had a great night and made it really easy on me. I think our line created a lot. It was a lot of fun tonight playing out there with those guys and just working together. It's always nice scoring."
Before pass to Abdelkader, did you try to snipe a shot from the corner?
"I took a quick look. I think the whole way I knew I was going to shoot. I had a lot of speed, just ripped it. I think he was cheating a little bit, I don't know, off his angle, but it worked out pretty well."
What were your thoughts of the player introductions?
"Just to skate out there and the crowd was pretty loud. I was just trying not to fall. It was a moment I'll remember for the rest of my life."
Did you want to just let your speed take over tonight?
"I try and just get skating. Usually when I'm not playing well or things aren't going my way, I just try to skate as hard as possible. It's a nice thing. But I was just feeling out the first few shifts. I felt pretty comfortable."
How much did it help playing with Abdelkader and Zetterberg?
"I think just playing with those guys, get open and they'll find you. I think me and Z worked well together. Abby, obviously, I think we all worked well together. It's fun when you're moving pucks and skating. We had positive talk so it was all fun."
Your dad said he used to buy Wings-Leafs tickets as Christmas presents.
“It was one of the best gifts. I think right where we used to sit is where they were sitting tonight. Just to look up there and see them, I guess Christmas came early this year."
Exciting to get Jeff Blashill his first NHL win?
"I think it's huge. I think it's a credit to him as a person and good things happen to good people. I'm happy for him and I think a lot more to come."
Do you need some time to catch breath now?
"I think with this, I just need to change and get ready for tomorrow."
How about the success you had with Larkin and Zetterberg?
Left Wing - DET
Goals: 3 | Assists: 0 | Pts: 3
Shots: 3 | +/-: 2
“We’re just putting ourselves in a good position, skating hard and making good plays around the net. Larkin brings another element with his speed. He is a really confident kid as you can see on the ice making plays. Z just goes about his business always putting guys in the right spot so I’m just trying to be around the net for those guys.”
When was the last time you saw a 19-year-old play as well as Larkin?
“I don‘t think I have since I’ve been in the league. He’s really confident … He had a good summer. He was really fit when he came to camp. I think it all started in training camp in Traverse City with the prospects tournament and carried over to training camp, preseason, and then right into the regular season tonight. He’s fun to watch. He’s playing well and now we have to expect it from him.”
What are your general thoughts on the game?
“I think there was a lot of good feelings all around, Larkin scoring his first goal, Howie getting the shutout. Obviously getting the hat trick was special for me, but overall we played a great game. We didn’t give them a whole lot. We came out at the start right away which was good with the energy and we fed off the crowd. We got those goals and sat back a bit. There were a few ups and downs, but overall it was a good win for us and we can build off that. It’s game one of 82 so we have a long ways to go and we have another shot at it tomorrow night.”
Can you describe your goals?
“First one on the power play, Mule shot it. I know it went off the post. I didn’t know if it went in. I saw it sitting there so obviously I was going to make sure to put it in.
“The second one, Larkin made some good plays there along the boards and found me in front, I kind of turned and got it through a defenseman’s legs and beat the goalie there.
“Third one, kind of a broken play, a bouncing puck, got by their defensemen and it ended up being a 2-on-1 and I just found a way to get it by.”
What do you think of your line tonight?
“It’s early. I love playing with Z. I think we have great chemistry out there. Larks brings an element of speed, energy, hard on pucks, can really shoot, skate. I think he showcased his skill set tonight. He’s only going to get better. It’s only one game. It’s great to see. If that’s going to be the lines for now hopefully we can get better and build off tonight.”
Pretty good start for the season opener?
“For sure. You always want to take care of home ice. It was a good win. A lot of good thing, penalty kill was great tonight. We can use it as a springboard as we go forward here. Hopefully we can learn from some things. It’s always good to get a win opening night. A little extra special for us to get a win against Babs and now we can turn the page once we got past the first one. Now we can move past it.”
So there is a little something there?
“Yeah. You know it’s our old coach. There’s pride, but it’s hockey. It’s business and people move on, people go to different places. We turn the page now. It felt good to win, but now it’s just going to be the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s not going to be the Toronto Maple Leafs and Babs.”
Is it appropriate that Blashill is coach because he’s a Michigan man?
“It’s great for the fans, good story lines. All of us connected to college hockey which is big. I know when I first came to the team being a Michigan born player was kind of out of the norm. Now it’s more of the norm with five guys and a coach. It’s extra special. I know it’s great for Michigan hockey players. Hopefully they can look up to us and strive to play in the NHL like we did when we were their age.”
Did you talk with Babcock at all before the game?
“No. Not much. I don’t think many of the guys ... it’s business, it’s hockey, we’re focused on our group and he’s focused on his. He was a big part of this organization for 10 years. Had some great years here. It’s always tough to turn the page. I know he had an opportunity there in Toronto and he jumped on it. It was perfect timing for Blash to come up because he had been so successfully in Grand Rapids. He’s going to be a great coach for us. We’re all really excited. The future looks bright.”
Did you want to win to show you can do it without Babcock?
“I don’t think so. I think the media makes a bigger deal out of it then it really needs to be. First time him coming back to the Joe was big. For him coming back to where his family was raised for 10 years, where he called home for so long. For us it was going about our business. We wanted to get that win. Maybe it meant a little more than playing Anaheim Mighty Ducks. I’m not going to lie there, but at the same time now that this game is past us we look to the future and turn the page, or close the book on that story line.”
What are your thoughts on the game?
Goalie - DET
GAA: 0.00 | Sv%: 1.000
"I think it was all about the team in front of me tonight, they did a great job. From the opening faceoff all the way to the end we did a great job limiting their opportunities.
"Just how effective we were in the defensive zone, which allowed us to get through the neutral zone and get up on the forecheck and because of that we were able to get four goals."
What did you think of Larkin’s first NHL goal?
"It must be a great feeling, first game 19 years old. He's just showing you the tip of the iceberg, great player, great kid, he's got a bright future in front of him."
How about Abdelkader’s night?
"Seems like he likes to score against Anaheim and Toronto. We'll take that."
What do you think the win means to Blashill?
"I think it means a lot to him. There were a lot of question marks around this team coming into this year and for the first night it was good."
Does it mean a little more to beat Babcock?
"I don't know. With him being the coach it's a little different, just standing back there, than when we were playing against Fil down in Tampa Bay, it was a little bit sweeter when we got to beat him."
Was there more energy from the crowd tonight?
"The crowd was just juiced. you could hear them when we were walking down the Zamboni entrance and they were just electric, all the way to the end."
Was the win like a fresh start for you?
"It was good. I was able to see pucks out there tonight. when guys box out, take away the far side of the net, it allows me to just concentrate on the puck. Makes a goaltender's life a lot easier."
How big was this win for you?
“For me personally it wasn’t as much buildup as getting the first game of the season getting going a little bit. It’s one of 82, it’s extremely important because there’s two points on the line. I said earlier today when the game started it’s pretty neat to have an opportunity to be the head coach of the team you grew up cheering for so I took a moment to certainly enjoy that but other than that it’s been preparation as usual and I’m glad we got two points.
“I thought we played really good. I thought the energy was great, the execution and attention to detail was good, I thought it was a good step for our team. I know they’re a good team as well, they’re going to make it hard on lots of teams through the season for sure. I just thought it was a real good step for our team.”
How about the night that Larkin had?
“I thought Dylan played very well. I talked to him before the game. He’s pretty unflappable, he seems to be extremely mature as a young guy. He seemed ready to go. I didn’t think he pressed, didn’t think he tried to do too much, I thought he played hockey and he does it very, very well. It was a good line. I didn’t know how he was going to do on the wing, that was the one unknown for me, not that he’s never played it, he played it a little bit for us in the Calder Cup playoffs but I thought that line was real effective. It’s a good first step for him.”
Your thoughts on Abdelkader’s hat trick?
“I felt coming into the season what he did last year is what Abby is. I think he’s a really, really good player who has had enough years under his belt where he’s probably earned more offensive opportunities and as a result you saw the goals he scored last year and he certainly started on the right foot today. I think Abby is a really good 200-foot player who brings an element to a line and there seems to be some chemistry with that line.”
What were your impressions on Howard’s shutout?
“I thought Jimmy was good and sometimes the game ends up 4-0 and it feels like it’s one-sided but it wasn’t. I thought we played well at times. When your goalie does what he does and not give them any sniff at all by stopping the ones he’s supposed to stop, by making the big saves at big moments. It keeps the game at bay for them and it allows us to continue to build the lead which he did in the second.”
Zetterberg three assists on his birthday?
“I thought three assists on your birthday, big win, that’s good for him. Good for us, too. Z’s been great through camp. Z’s been awesome in terms of his approach, he’s a phenomenal leader. Feel real lucky to have him on our team and be able to coach him.”
Thoughts on Brad Richards in his Red Wings’ debut?
“Richie did what he’s done all camp and that’s play very hard. He’s got a lot of talent, he skated hard. I think their line with Tats and Nyquie brings a different element, they got a ton of skill and they play give and go off each other real well. I think it’s going to be a real good line for us.”
Did you like the energy in building?
“I thought the energy was awesome. I’ve been in this building on some pretty cool nights but this was awesome. I really did. I thought the energy was incredible. Obviously the rivalry with Toronto helps that but I thought it was really cool.”
Is it a steep hill to climb against a team like Detroit when you get down?
“Obviously, they scored on the power play, they scored another goal. We had three guys home free and they never scored on their chances. I thought they were way more competitive in front of both nets than we were tonight. I didn’t think we gave up a ton, but when we did, they were stronger on their sticks in front of our net than we were in front of their net and on the walls.”
What are your thoughts on facing adversity early in season?
“Adversity to me is what we went through tonight and we can respond tomorrow. There’s nothing we can do about tonight. We got down two and we gave up a goal on the first shift of the second period. That really sank us. Two (down) is a way better situation than what we were in after one shift in the second period.”
Can you reflect on first game back here in Detroit?
“The bottom line is they won the game. We came here for two points and we didn’t get that. That part’s disappointing. I don’t think I was surprised by how good Detroit played or anything like that. I just think we’ve got to be better.”
What did you think of the tribute the Wings gave you in the first period?
“It was nice of them to do. They sure didn’t have to do that obviously. I don’t coach the team anymore. I’ve said it a number of times I’m glad this is all over with to be honest with you. The Leafs played the Red Wings today and they won. To me it’s that simple. I appreciate that but we’ll move on here and we’ve got a game tomorrow. We’ve got to regroup because we’ve got to play better than that.”
What did you think of Larkin’s debut?
“I asked our guys after, if you compare him to (William) Nylander, cause we sent our kids down. Larks obviously played with two big players in Zetterberg, a real good leader and Abdelkader, a real physical guy and a good net-front presence, so those are nice guys to play with if you are a kid.
“He obviously gives them speed and he competes on every shift. He’s real competitive.”