On Tuesday night, Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill made some pointed comments in lobbying for protection for standout rookie Dylan Larkin.
“I think referees throughout the league have to know that young stars in the league, when they get targeted, they’ve got to make sure they do a good job of calling penalties, even if they’re close,” Blashill said, per MLive. “We don’t want our young stars in the league getting targeted and we don’t want lots of fighting anymore, so we better make sure we look after them a little bit that way.
“So if it’s close, let’s make sure we look after them.”
Blashill’s comments came after the Devils were physical with Larkin in their 4-3 win. Defenseman John Moore hit Larkin a couple of times, including one in the second period that sent the 19-year-old crashing into the boards:
Though Larkin still managed to score last night — his 13th goal of the year — the Moore hit sent him to the dressing room, part of the reason why he only received 16:48 TOI, his lowest total in the last nine games.
A few things to consider here:
— Listed at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds (perhaps a bit graciously), Larkin has decent size. One could actually argue his speed and dynamic skating ability play a bigger role in hazardous collisions than anything else, because the kid can flat-out fly.
— Detroit phased out the enforcer role during the Mike Babcock era, and Blashill doesn’t sound like he’s going to re-implement it anytime soon. “We don’t want lots of fighting,” he told MLive.
— Moore wasn’t penalized for the hit on Larkin. Fellow Devils d-man Damon Severson, who went after Larkin following the hit, was given a roughing penalty after Justin Abdelkader came in to Larkin’s aid.
— Abdelkader ended up getting an extra minor roughing penalty for jumping in, sending the Devils to the power play.
“It’s a pretty innocent play that happens a lot of times through the course of the game. I thought maybe he kind of went limp there in an effort to maybe sell a call.
“I’m certainly not going to run a guy from behind. It’s more I was taking him into the wall. To me, it felt like he kind of went limp there and was trying to maybe sell something.”