Geek of the Week: Better Days Ahead For Larkin?

Ben Burnett

2019-11-24


With the first quarter of the season in the books, there are always players who make us second-guess our projections. Deployment and puck luck are very fickle, and unfortunately, even the most accomplished fantasy hockey player has no control over either. That said, sometimes players slump for no other reason than the pucks and points just aren’t quite going their way. Such is the case with Dylan Larkin.

The 23-year-old center has amassed 16 points through 25 games, pacing for only 20 goals and 52 points. That’s a far cry from the 79-point pace Larkin put up one year ago. As we move into the season’s second quarter, many owners in shallower leagues may be considering a C-only player on pace for low-50 point total a bust. As we get into the middle of the schedule, it’s high time for Larkin to show what he can do. But was the Wings leading scorer from 2018-19 just a flash in the pan?

Season so far

Larkin’s disappointment for fantasy owners extends past the boxcar stats. His shot rate has fallen by about half a shot per game. His hit, penalty minute, and even face-off win paces are all down from last year as well.

There is likely an explanation for those numbers falling off, though I’m not sure it’s a promising factoid for fantasy owners: Larkin’s overall time on ice is down by about 80 seconds this year. While it’s a positive sign to see about 50 seconds more on the power play each night, it’s frustrating to see the Wings’ obvious first-line winger lose so much ice time at even strength. Last year, Larkin ranked third in the league in even-strength time on ice per game, behind only Connor McDavid and Patrick Kane. This year, he’s fallen down to ninth, though that’s meant an average drop off of 1:20 each time the Red Wings hit the ice.

Underlying numbers

The first number we’re going to look at when checking for possible regression is individual shooting percentage. In this case, Larkin has averaged 9 percent even-strength shooting percentage over the three years before this one. This season, he’s shooting at around 6.5 percent. His power-play shooting has been roughly what we’d expect at 14.29 percent.

But that’s not all that’s going on here. While Larkin is on the ice during a power play, the Wings are scoring on over 11