As you may or may not know, not every Red Wings player decided to hit the golf course just because they are not in the playoffs. A few of them decided to go play for their country in the World Championships. Dylan Larkin, Jimmy Howard, Petr Mrazek, Danny DeKeyser, and Jeff Blashill all decided to represent their respective countries. Here is how they performed in the tournament:
Larkin showed that he is better than he performed during the 2016-17 regular season. Over 8 games, Larkin had 10 points on 2 goals and 8 assists and had a +/- of 7. Now those numbers may not look very impressive, but you have to remember Larkin had just 15 assists and a +/- of -28 in 80 games this past season. It is a good sign for the 20, soon to be 21-year-old, that the 2016/17 season was just a sophomore slump. Larkin should be just fine going forward.
DeKeyser, oh DeKeyser. There is not much to say about him. He played 8 games without a goal or an assist, but did have a +/- of 5. The biggest take away from DeKeyser’s performance in the tournament is that he had a positive +/- after having a +/- of -22 over 82 games in 2016/17.
Howard had a fantastic tournament. He allowed 11 goals on 137 shots for a save percentage of .919 and had 1 shutout. As usual, Howard is showing that he is a valuable asset when healthy. In an injury shortened season, he had 626 saves on 675 shots against for a save percentage of .927. If he can stay healthy, Howard can help the team in a couple of ways; between the pipes as the Red Wings number 1 goalie or bringing in some young talent via a trade.
Mrazek is going to have to figure something out quick to get back to performing as well as we all know he can. Allowing 10 goals on 84 shots, he only had a save percentage of .881 in the tournament. It is not that surprising that Mrazek struggled in the tournament coming off a season where he allowed 145 goals on 1462 shots for a save percentage of .901. Mrazek needs to find his confidence again. He has not been playing confidently and seems to be doubting his ability right now. While it is a struggle for any goalie to play behind the Red Wings defense, Mrazek should probably have had a better season than he did as the team’s number 1 goalie.
The biggest takeaway from Team USA’s performance is probably that Blashill is not as bad of a coach as many claim. Believe that if you want to, but it is true. He led Team USA to a 6-2 record which goes to show that with the right pieces, Blashill can, in fact, be an effective coach. Team USA was ranked among the top in most statistical categories, http://www.iihfworlds2017.com/en/stats/#teams, which shows that Blashill actually does know what he is doing. It is going to be a long off season for the Red Wings and it is up to the team’s GM, Kenny Holland, to bring in the pieces that Blashill needs to be successful. Hopefully the 2017/18 season will go a bit better than the 2016/17 season did.