| The Detroit News
Detroit — One thing, for sure, forward Bobby Ryan noticed while watching Thursday’s Red Wings’ game above ice level.
It sure is easier from up there.
“When I drove home last night I was thinking about that,” said Ryan after Friday’s practice. Ryan missed the game due to an undisclosed injury. “I would be the MVP of the league if I could play every game from up there.
“The things that you think you are seeing are not quite there in the players’ eyes.”
Ryan most likely gets his first chance to see those things on the ice Saturday, as the Red Wings again host Carolina (7 p.m./FSD/97.1 FM).
Ryan went through Friday’s practice, felt good, and appears to ready to make his Wings’ debut after missing five days of practices and scrimmages
“I feel great, happy with the way I responded to my injury,” Ryan said. “All good news, I’m hoping to join the guys. I’m just happy with whatever role they give me.”
Ryan had been practicing on a line with Robby Fabbri and Filip Zadina, but it’s unclear if coach Jeff Blashill will return to that immediately.
For now, Blashill is hopeful Ryan’s return can spark a Wings’ power play that didn’t look all that powerful Thursday against the Hurricanes.
“Our power play needed to be better and that’s one area where we feel he can really help ,” Blashill said. “We’ll spot him five-on-five, hopefully that can lead to getting his legs underneath him and once he gets going, he’s a guy that hopefully can give us some more scoring. We feel he’s in a good spot to be able to help us.”
Ryan was on a power-play unit with Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi and Danny DeKeyser during Thursday’s practice.
Playing the net-front position, Ryan feels he can get sticks on pucks and create havoc around the Hurricanes’ net.
“We’ve gotten reps together in camp and then I missed the scrimmages where you get real reps,” Ryan said. “That makes it a little more difficult to slide in. I can help them on the entries, we weren’t real crisp there (Thursday) but we were better at it this morning.
“If me and Bert continue to be the net-front guys, and Bert is going to get his stick on just about everything that comes through, it can (create havoc) and then we can let the skill guys do what they do on the outside.”
Ryan is also looking forward to putting on the Wings’ jersey for the first time.
Ryan talked about the nervous energy any player of playing on a new team, and mentioned a discussion he had with new teammate Vladislav Namestnikov about Thursday’s game.
“He said he hadn’t recalled being that nervous in a while,” Ryan said. “It’s not lost on me I’m getting to wear an Original Six jersey, so there’s a lot of history there and you want to do right by it.
“I’m excited to put it on.”
Forwards Givani Smith and Michael Rasmussen, defensemen Dennis Cholowski and Gusatv Lindstrom and goaltenders Calvin Pickard and Kevin Boyle comprise the Wings’ taxi squad, awaiting a chance to play if needed, given the unpredictability of operating a sports team during a pandemic.
The taxi squad practices daily with the Wings — and often times have a second session with skills coach Brandon Naurato — to keep sharp.
Blashill views this as an opportunity for young players to improve and sharpen their skills.
“It’s a combination of being mentally and physically ready to come into a game when needed, and continue to get better (and an) extension of training camp in terms of grinding those guys to get better,” Blashill said.
There’s a good chance some of the taxi players will wind up in Grand Rapids when the American League season begins, and play some games there. But until then, it’s a good opportunity to work hard to get to the NHL.
“It’s not easy,” said Blashill, noting it’s not easy to make the NHL either. “We have young guys who want to be in the NHL. They have to grind, and grind, to get better. To me, it’s a great opportunity to help them get better and put them in position where they can help us.”
… The Wings’ Feb. 21 home game against the Panthers has been moved up to 5 p.m. Saturday Feb. 20. Also, the faceoff time for the Friday, Feb. 19 home against Florida has been p to 7 p.m. from 7:30 p.m.
Hurricanes at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7 Saturday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
Outlook: Carolina (1-0-0) shut out the Wings Thursday 3-0. … Former Wings G Petr Mrazek stopped all 14 shots he faced, as the Hurricanes dominated defensively. … This will be the second of a two-game “series,” which will be common in this season’s NHL schedule. Columbus comes to Little Caesars Arena for games Monday and Tuesday.