How Bobby Ryan is quickly proving his value to the Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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Bobby Ryan ended the fight Monday as quickly as he could, because the Detroit Red Wings need him in the lineup, not in sickbay.

He takes a nascent scoring streak into Tuesday’s rematch against the Columbus Blue Jackets after scoring twice in Monday’s 3-2 loss at Little Caesars Arena. Ryan scored off a draw, and was at the crease to get a piece of the puck in the final minute of the game. He scored his first goal Saturday after missing the opener.

“To make an impact is great,” Ryan said. “I’d like to be 2-0 since I’ve been in, but I’m happy I’m contributing and hopefully it can continue to take the pressure off the top guys.”

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The Wings are 1-2, and every game has been close. The power play has gone 0-for-6, but the level of competitiveness has been far better than last season.

“For three games, we’ve done it the right way,” Dylan Larkin said. “Yes, we’ve given up some goals, but we’ve had lots of communication, lots of puck support, gotten out of our zone pretty efficiently. The process is really good and if we continue to do that, the result will come as well.”

The Wings had to make do without Robby Fabbri and Adam Erne, both of whom were unavailable because of COVID-19 protocol.

“It’s a unique situation,” Ryan said. “You have contact tracing, so you have other guys wondering if they are going to be in and taking rapid tests. If just one of those things where you have to roll with the punches. It’s the next man up, right?”

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Monday, that meant Michael Rasmussen taking over Fabbri’s spot centering Ryan and Filip Zadina. Playing with 21-year-old linemates didn’t faze Ryan, who has a dozen years on them.

“Truthfully I’ve left Z alone, because I think he’s got a really good mind and IQ for the offensive side of things,” Ryan said. “I just let him play, and when there are little things, we can work on them together through communication. But I haven’t had to say much.

“With Ras, he got thrown in rather quickly, so I just tried to continually say little things to him. He’s such a big body so I thought our line could grind and I thought we did. I thought we did some good things creating down low. Obviously scored. I enjoyed playing with him. He’s an interesting player because he can kind of command the middle of the ice and then kick it wide and really get in a lot of areas. But I left them both alone, they are smart, they have a feel for the game.”

Coach Jeff Blashill described the comfort in knowing  Ryan “could help them a little bit and walk them through some stuff. He helps all our young players. Bobby is a guy who our guys respect a lot and he’s skating really good. I think the biggest thing for Bobby is making sure he takes care of his own game and he’s done a good job of that.”

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Ryan has made himself into a great story over the past year: He faced up to an alcohol problem, dealt with being bought out by the Ottawa Senators and accepted a one-year, $1 million offer from general manager Steve Yzerman after making sure the Wings would be a good destination to attempt to reboot his career.

“For me personally,” Ryan said, “I guess this was a prove-it year and an opportunity for me to take the step that I should have taken years ago, but hadn’t been able to because of the outside stuff. It means a lot.”

Ryan is,early on, showing good return on investment. He’s scoring goals while providing valuable leadership.

“I can’t say enough good things about him,” Larkin said. “He’s come to play for our team and that’s huge. He’s a guy who understands the value of the puck, understands the value of time in the offensive zone. He understands the game. He understands when to take his chance of creating something and when to lay it in.

“He’s a smart hockey player. He’s been our best player the past two games. When he has the puck, he is dangerous. When he doesn’t, he makes the right things happen and makes the right play. A lesson for guys like myself and our line to learn from.”


Dylan Larkin says Detroit Red Wings have done it right for 3 games

Dylan Larkin interview, Jan. 18, 2021.

Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press

Ryan also imparted a lesson Monday about engaging, or trying to engage, an opponent in a fight. When a melee erupted in the final minute, Ryan scrapped with Oliver Bjorkstrand, but not for long. Ryan didn’t want to aggravate his arthritic hands.

“They just hurt all the time at this point,” Ryan said. “That’s why I kind of made sure the fight ended quickly, so I don’t have to sit 4-to-6 (weeks) again. I never want to miss time for a broken finger again — there is nothing more annoying.”

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Contact Helene St. James at 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 AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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