| Detroit Free Press
Why making his Detroit Red Wings debut is meaningful to Bobby Ryan
Bobby Ryan interview, Jan. 15, 2021.
Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press
Bobby Ryan didn’t like what he was seeing, so he moved. Relocating helped, but it still wasn’t close to where he really wants to be.
Ryan is expected to make his Detroit Red Wings debut on Saturday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes, two days after being shutout by the Canes in the season opener.
A free agent signing by general manager Steve Yzerman, Ryan hasn’t played since March 11 — he played for Ottawa last season — and took notice Thursday as he watched his new team’s first game in 310 days. Ryan missed that game because of an injury suffered during the first week of training camp.
“All those things you don’t see for 10 months — the reads that you have to make, the 30-foot passes that are all of a sudden more important than they are in an informal skate, those things add up and you have to get them out of the way,’ Ryan said Friday. “There’s a lot of growing room after that game from what I saw. Now it’s my turn to go through that first game, so try not to pick me apart too badly.”
The Wings focused on special teams during practice after failing to convert on two power plays in the opener. Ryan was on Dylan Larkin’s unit, along with Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha and Danny DeKeyser, a group that has the talent to be dangerous.
“I think I can help them on the entries because we weren’t real crisp there,” Ryan said. I think if me and Bert continue to be the net-front guys — you know that Bert is going to get a stick on just about everything that comes through there — we can create a lot of havoc down low, and then we can let the skill guys do what they do on the outside.
“There’s tons of potential. Potential is great, but you have to find a way to execute. Especially in a short year, special teams are going to be more emphasized than ever, really.”
Coach Jeff Blashill said that with Ryan having missed a week of practices, the plan is to ease him in at even strength (based on practice, it looked like Ryan will sub in for Frans Nielsen).
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“First and foremost, you hope it can help our power play,” Blashill said. “The power play needed to be better. That’s one area we feel Bobby can really help. We’ll spot him in 5-on-5 but hopefully that can lead to him get his legs going, and then give us more secondary scoring. We feel he’s in a good spot to be able to help us.”
The opener was a disappointment after the hope built up during camp, as the Canes scored early and never looked like they were going to lose. Unlike the Wings, the Canes were part of the summer playoff bubble.
“We just hadn’t been in that environment in a long time,” Blashill said. “There are a little bit of jitters. You are just not as locked into your routine as you normally are. I’m sure that that could have played part into some guys and maybe the performance wasn’t as good from some as I think it will be moving forward.
“For two periods, we did an all right job, although we can be way better. Then in the third, it got away from us.”
Ryan had a different view as he moved around Little Caesars Arena.
“The first two periods I watched on TV, and I felt like we looked terrible,” he said. “Then when I watched the third up top, I said, ‘oh, it’s not this bad. It’s just terrible on TV.’ So it didn’t translate well when you are trying to pick things apart.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect. I talked to so many guys who played in the bubble and how it was. I think they did a great job with the synthetic noise to try to create some atmosphere. But you can almost hear the guys yelling at each other.”
As he anticipates his debut, Ryan spoke to fellow newcomer Vladislav Namestnikov about the experience.
“I have that same kind of nervous energy that I’ve had in the past — my first game in Ottawa, my first game in Anaheim,” Ryan said. “I talked to Vladdy and he said he hadn’t recalled being that nervous in a while. It’s not lost on me that I’m getting to wear an Original Six jersey. There’s a lot of history there and you want to do right by it. I’m excited to put it on. My excitement is at an all time high.”
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.
Jeff Blashill breaks down how Bobby Ryan can help Detroit Red Wings
Jeff Blashill interview, Jan. 15, 2021.
Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press