This post is part of Red Wings Day on PHT…
Two years ago, Dylan Larkin had a terrific rookie season that saw him score 23 goals, 45 points on top of a plus-11 rating. He finished fifth in Calder Trophy voting, and it seemed as though he was on his way to stardom.
Unfortunately for Larkin and the Red Wings, things didn’t turn out that way in his sophomore season (he managed to accumulate 17 goals, but he only finished with 32 points and a minus-28 rating).
It’s not uncommon for second-year players to see their numbers come down. Now that he’s heading into year three, the Wings will need him to step up if they’re going to make it back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Taking a look at Larkin’s totals from last year, one thing that jumps off the page is the drop in shots from his first year to his second year. In his rookie season, he fired 221 shots on goal and he had 390 shot attempts. His shooting percentage was also at 10.4 percent.
Last season, not only did his shooting percentage dip to 9.6 percent, but he also had just 178 shots on goal and 310 shot attempts.
“You look at opportunities and you look at bounces, even, as crazy as it sounds,” Larkin told the Detroit Free Press in February. “You look at shots on goal, in the past few months, (it) hasn’t been there for myself. It’s a stat that’s black and white, in the face. To score goals, to get assists off rebounds, to create offense, you have to put the puck on net.
“I’ve been working on being a playmaker and trying to make my linemates around me better but I think I’ve gotten away from my shooting mentality that I’ve had since my first NHL game.”
The 21-year-old has the wheels to excel at the NHL level, but as he alluded to in the above quote, he clearly got away from what was making him successful. The fact that other NHL teams knew they had to neutralize Larkin didn’t help the young forward either. Now, it’ll be up to him to make the necessary adjustments in 2017-18.
Over the final 20 games of the regular season, he seemed to have made some progress. He picked up eight points in eight games between Mar. 4-18. He then failed to pick up a point in the following six games before ending the season with five points in six contests.
On another positive note, he also had plenty of success with Team USA at the 2017 World Hockey Championship, as he scored two goals and 10 points in eight games during the tournament.
Nobody knows what Larkin’s numbers will look like going forward, but it seems fairly obvious that his focus will be on shooting the puck more. If he generates more shots, the points should come.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of season he’s able to put together in 2017-18.